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Book delves into the resilience of children who lost a parent on 9/11

Payton Lynch, a 2012 Parkland High School graduate, has recently published her first book, “Rise from the Ashes: Stories of Trauma, Resilience and Growth from the Children of 9/11.”

The book explores the trauma of 9/11 and the triumphs resulting from that day through stories and insights of then-children Jonathan Lynch, Payton’s husband; author Matthew John Bocchi; comedian Pete Davidson; and many others who lost a loved one in the 9/11 attacks.

Conversations area featured with licensed counselors, including Stacie Boyar, who worked with survivors of other tragedies, such as the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Lynch was inspired to write the book by her husband’s story.

He lost his father, who was working in the World Trade Center in New York City on Sept. 11, 2001.

“When my husband was 13 years old, his father, Robert Henry Lynch Jr., ran back into the World Trade Center to save others,” she said. “This loss at such a young age has had a profound impact on my husband’s life.

“As 2020 brought unique challenges and, for me, the biggest challenges of my life thus far, I wanted to understand why my husband seemed better equipped to cope than I was,” she said.

Jonathan Lynch explained how 9/11 and the loss of his father affected his life.

“My dad is a hero. He went back into the buildings to save other people that day,” Jonathan Lynch said. “Not a day goes by where I don’t wish he was still here, but I am proud my dad was there to help others that day.

“Because he went back in, there are other people alive today who wouldn’t be,” he said.

“And I’m proud of that legacy.”

Jonathan Lynch, a 2006 Parkland High School graduate, met Payton when they performed in the 2013 alumni production at the Freddy Awards.

In 2014, he proposed to Payton offstage at the Freddy Awards, which was captured live on television.

Lynch was also the theater director for several years at Orefield Middle School.

The couple now lives in Orlando, Florida.

Jonathan Lynch is a Walt Disney World Entertainment cast member who performs in shows and parades. He is currently in a temporary role as a jungle cruise skipper until entertainment is in full swing post COVID-19 pandemic.

Payton Lynch, a 2015 graduate of DeSales University with a Bachelor of Science degree in marketing, is a 2020 graduate of Florida Institute of Technology with a Master of Business Administration degree in management.

She has worked for Disney for the past six years and is the senior product manager for the My Disney Experience, Disneyland and Hong Kong Disneyland apps.

“I am responsible for new products and enhancements supporting these apps,” she said.

“I work across various teams and business units to define, document and implement a product road map that maximizes the guest app experience across multiple platforms and devices.

“I ensure the product vision is realized and the product/enhancement is successfully brought to market.”

When she began speaking with other children who lost loved ones on 9/11, she found many of them share a common resilience.

“Their stories taught me how to better cope with my current challenges, something all who experience grief and trauma could benefit from,” Payton Lynch said.

Her husband connected her to a community of individuals who suffered a loss on 9/11.

“He and his family encouraged me to reach out to Tuesday’s Children, an organization that has helped countless 9/11 families and other victims of war violence throughout the years,” Payton Lynch said. “They sent out a newsletter about the project, and a dozen or so 9/11 surviving children reached out willing to share their stories.”

Her hope for the book is not just to look back at 9/11 but to provide a glimpse into how the people affected by an enormous tragedy picked up the pieces and moved forward.

“The 9/11 surviving children are living proof that all of us can tap into our best selves even after, and sometimes because of, grief and trauma,” she said.

“While you may not have been personally affected by 9/11, the lessons they have to share apply to all of us encountering challenges.

“In hearing their stories, my hope is we discover what it means to bounce forward after tragedy and recognize our past doesn’t define us, but it definitely shapes us.”

The name of her book was chosen to symbolize the idea of a phoenix rising from the ashes of tragedy.

“It demonstrates how beautiful things can come from the most challenging of times,” she said.

“Rise from the Ashes: Stories of Trauma, Resilience and Growth from the Children of 9/11” is available for purchase on Amazon.

“My book will also be available through Barnes & Noble and other major retailers online and in stores soon,” she added.

Payton Lynch's book explores the triumphs and trauma of children who lost a parent to the 9/11 attacks.
The cover of the book “Rise from the Ashes: Stories of Trauma, Resilience and Growth from the Children of 9/11.” PRESS PHOTOS COURTESY THE LYNCH Family
ABOVE: The late Robert Henry Lynch Jr. with his son Jonathan when he was a young boy.
RIGHT: Payton Lynch wrote “Rise from the Ashes: Stories of Trauma, Resilience and Growth from the Children of 9/11” because of her husband's strength following the death of his father on 9/11.