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    The AtlanticJennifer Senior8/9/2169 min
    8 reads4 comments
    9.5
    The Atlantic
    8 reads
    9.5
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    • DellwoodBarker
      Top reader this weekReading streakScoutScribe
      1 month ago

      Powerful 69 Minutes.

      This is Love:

      Long ago, Helen realized that “9/11 truth,” as Bob Sr. likes to call it, had sunk its hooks into her husband, and she’s never thought it her place to pry them loose. “I’m very protective of him,” she says. “If he decided to be a male stripper in an old people’s home, it’s okay with me. He has to be who he has to be, because damn it, this happened, you know? And if that’s going to give him comfort—”

      She interrupts herself, gives an embarrassed smile. “Get that visualization out of your head.”

      Helen would never dream of abandoning this dear man. He was Bobby’s Little League coach. The one who organized races around the house when the kids were little, using a piece of tape for the finish line. Bob Sr. was her only suitor who ever suggested they play sports together—the others thought that was strictly for the fellas.

      And now he’s the only other person in the world who understands what it feels like to have raised Bobby McIlvaine and lost him.

      She walks me over to the wall with a giant framed poster she had custom-made for her husband five years ago. It’s a periodic table of Bob Sr., basically—dozens of images of him, all tidily laid out in a grid. Bob Sr. talking to Rosie O’Donnell. Bob Sr. giving an interview on French television. Bob Sr. speaking at a forum about the 9/11 Commission report, captured on C-SPAN. “I gave him that on his 70th birthday,” she says. She went online, punched his name into Google, and voilà. A hero’s gallery. “I love looking at it.” He’s become the superstar, strangely, that his son never had the chance to be.

      Bob Sr.’s crusade may look to the outside world like madness. Helen sees it as an act of love. “He’s almost going to war for his son,” she tells me. “He’s being a father in the best way he knows how. How can I not allow that?”

    • Tarunika1 month ago

      Wow, this was a beautiful read! Humans are complex, our emotions complex and dealing with grief and death is so hard, especially when everything is so unexpected and unfair! Somehow reading this makes me think of the state of affairs at Afghanistan today and it makes me very sad, very sad that there can be cruel, power hungry humans that create havoc at the cost of innocent lives!

      My heart goes out to all the families that lost their Bobbys and to all the Bob Snrs still on top of their mountains ♥️😢

    • Jessica1 month ago

      I feel a need to re-read this piece to process the emotions that overtook me throughout each passage. The overwhelming grief and evolution of Bobby Sr., Helen, Jen, and Jeff took my entire being to so many places.

      There are people that need me. And that, in itself, is life. There are people I do not know yet that need me. That is life.

    • KapteinB
      Top reader this weekScoutScribe
      2 months ago

      I fought back tears many times while reading this.

      Life loves on.