It took a few weeks for Annette Vukosa to finally break it to her elder son, Austin, that his father would not be coming home, and for a long time after that, the two spoke only sparingly about him. Finally, a few months after Sept. 11, Austin, all of 7, went up to his mother in their apartment in Kensington, Brooklyn, and announced: “I have a plan.” “We can be together with Daddy when we die,” he said. “If we cut our wrists, we’ll die and we’ll all be with Daddy again.” How Austin grew from being a bereft little boy to a hyperambitious beanpole of a 16-year-old is a story of stand-ins and mentors, therapy and special camps, and a universal desire by everyone close to him to ensure that Sept. 11 would neither destroy nor define his life. Most of all, it is a story of a child who grew up fast and focused, picking himself up, realizing early on that the boy truly is the father to the man.
more from David Gonzalez at the NYT here.