Is 9/11 my Story to Tell?

My third grade class wrote a book in honor of the Cayne family in 2001. This is one of the pages from that sweet, little book.

Is 9/11 my story to tell?

This is the question I’ve been camped on for the past couple of weeks.

9/11 is a significant day for our family in that soon after this horrific terrorist attack, John andI I decided to do something more than send money or a card of condolence to the victims’ families. We decided to invest long-term in one family – by choosing to honor and extol the life of one of the victims in a very personal way. And in so doing, continue to walk alongside his family year in and year out – no matter where we were in the world. We decided to name our unborn son in recognition of the life well-lived of Jason David Cayne.

Jake Nathanael Witherow was born on October 26, 2001 – 45 days after 9/11.

This is one of the on-line notices that John and I read about Jake and his family before we committed ourselves to them by naming our Jake.

Our son was named to remember Jason David Cayne, known as Jake. Jake Cayne was the proud and loving father of Suzann, Marissa and Raquel and the faithful husband and life-long friend of Gina.

Just 45 days after – we chose to remember, to stand with, and to encourage this family for as long as the Lord enabled us.


We’ve had many sets of 45 days since 9/11. For our Jake, he has celebrated 14 years of life – most of these amazing years in South Africa – far, far, far away from Ground Zero, the hallowed ground where Jake was killed while working at Cantor Fitzgerald in the World Trade Center.

Tomorrow marks the 15th commemoration of these abhorrent attacks and Jake’s death. And 45 days from now – our Jake will celebrate his 15th birthday.

Here’s our Jake standing on some granite rock in Matopos, Zimbabwe – one of his favorite places on the planet!

So, back to my question – is 9/11 my story to tell?

In most ways, no. It is not. Before 9/11, I did not know anyone who would be affected by the heart-crushing events of that day. I have not lived without my son, daughter, wife, husband, mother, father, grandchild, cousin, or friend because of 9/11.

Instead, in many ways life, hope, commitment, remembrance, and trust were birthed into our family as we chose to come alongside the Cayne family when we named our boy, Jake.

Amazingly, 15 years later, we have yet to meet Jake Cayne’s awe-inspiring family. The girls have grown up into astonishingly beautiful young women with great resolve to live their lives with purpose, grace and hope. They have been inspired by their mom, Gina, to embrace this life – in all of its horrors – and to instead gift others with courage, determination, and a commitment to never stand alone. It has not been easy. A tremendously dark, expansive cavern of suffering and loss enveloped this family when Jake died – no one can ever replace a loving and committed father and husband who made his wife and children feel like they were the most valuable treasures on earth. Despite this ‘how-can-we-ever-come-through-this-nightmare,’ Gina and her girls did come through and are continuing to make their way through this life in admirable ways – even now – 15 years later.

The small part our family has played in the Cayne family’s life is to never forget them, to pray for them like crazy, and to encourage them to keep going. We want them to know that they are not alone; not ever. So, although, 9/11 is not my story to tell, it’s the story from 9/11 that launched one of my children’s lives and empowered our family to walk alongside the Cayne family – although at great distance – for as long as it takes.

That’s my 9/11 story.

It’s a story of life, hope, blessing, commitment, and resolve.

Do you have a 9/11 story to tell?

Because if you do, it matters.

The Cayne family are living out these words in large, large ways!

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