"The depressed widow of September 10th needed to be reminded that in everything, even in death, there can be blessings. My husband died with love, dignity and security. If only everyone was that fortunate."
On September 10, 2001 I was depressed. I was thirty-four years old and a single mother to an adorable eight year old, Alina.
That night, after work, I did what I had done daily since February 21, 2001. I read to my daughter Alina, tucked her into bed, and then retreated to my front porch.
Before February 21, 2001, my front porch was hardly noticed. I was simply passing through that space to get somewhere else. The porch was a place to put the groceries before carrying them into the house. It was a place to decorate for the holidays. It was a place to house a fern or two. I didn’t use my front porch to relax or socialize the way some people do. I was far too busy.
On September 10, 2001, I sat on the porch, just before midnight. I sat in my new rocking chair, a great find at a yard sale, and cried until there were no tears left. But my sadness wasn’t all out and I couldn’t figure out how to go on. I was lost.
I looked at the stars and took a deep breath. Why me? Why Kevin? I don’t know if I can do this anymore. I was lost.
I sat until I saw my sign, a shooting star, and then went to bed. Good night. I love you Sweet Prince.
I remember exactly where I was when the first plane hit on September 11th. I was in center city Philadelphia. I had just arrived at my job as Director of Communications for the ALS Hope Foundation. Hearing the news, I felt nauseous with disbelief and wanted to go home. Gratefully, my boss told everyone to go home and to be safe.
I picked up Alina from school, headed home and turned on the news in our family room. My heart sank. The tears fell and there were no appropriate words. How could this have happened? Those innocent victims! Their poor families who have to go on regardless. The challenges that thousands will face.
I immediately prayed for the 9/11 families, the firefighters, the EMTs and our country.
The enormous grief and loss of that day transformed me right back to February 21, 2001.
We were in our family room then too. But my husband Kevin was with us.. We were surrounded by family and friends. Our priest was holding Kevin’s right hand. I was holding Kevin’s left hand. He was connected to a ventilator, his body weak and his muscles atrophied. He had a feeding tube for nourishment and was paralyzed. My body snuggled against his, cozy in his hospital bed. My face was nuzzled in his neck and then I looked into his green eyes. Soft music played and candles burned around the room. It was peaceful. We were saying goodbye to our hero.
Before my husband Kevin died that day, he looked at me and said, ‘I just want to see my beautiful wife. “ Those were his last words. Yet, they weren’t actually words, when Kevin went on a ventilator; he lost his ability to speak. For more than a year, I had to read his lips for us to communicate.
On Sept. 11th, 2001, my grief morphed into empathy. All of the victims, survivors and widows, many who were younger than me, had no time to prepare for death.
It took ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, nearly six years to take my husband from me. I had the chance to tell him I loved him, again and again. I had the chance to watch him battle ALS like a hero. He had the chance to write cards to Alina- for her sweet sixteen, her high school graduation and even her wedding. He had the chance to tell me I was beautiful for the last time.
I had time to prepare for my husband’s death. I had time to prepare for my husband’s funeral. He got to read his eulogy before I proudly read it to his mourners.
I will never forget September 11, 2001 for many reasons. That day signifies so much loss. The loss of love. Loss of dignity. Loss of security. Yet, among all of that loss on 9/11, I was found. The depressed widow of September 10th needed to be reminded that in everything, even in death, there can be blessings. My husband died with love, dignity and security. If only everyone was that fortunate.