When I tell my personal story while doing tours at the National September 11 Memorial for the Tribute Center, I say “there are 2 reasons I have made it through the last 11 years – my faith and the fact that Bruce was a NYC firefighter. I have never asked why because on September 11 he was doing his job. It was his job to go into those buildings and it was a job he loved.”  But I really should say “there are 3 reasons I have made it through the last 11 years – my faith, the fact Bruce was a NYC firefighter and that I am blest to have the most amazing family and friends.”

My faith is what has sustained me through the years. God has proved that He can be trusted. He has allowed me to hide behind him. He has carried me. He has put me down to walk beside him and He has picked me up again. Bruce and I always talked about that if we truly believed what we said we believed then when one of us died it better be different, because we either believe there is eternal life or we don’t. I believe that it is only time that separates Bruce and I. And when eternity comes I will see my husband again. That doesn’t mean that I am happy that he died. It doesn’t mean that I haven’t looked towards the heaven and yelled “are you kidding me”. But God is big enough for my doubts and questions. He has given me a “peace that surpasses all understanding.” I was asked by a television reporter in December 2001 “how was I coping”. I answered “I am not coping. I am hoping.” I realized after I said it that could have become a “sound bite” that said “I wasn’t coping”. Thankful they used the entire statement.

Because Bruce was a firefighter, I believe he died in the line of duty. He gave his life, no one took it. Whenever a firefighter goes to work, he may not come home. That is a whole different thing than your 23-year-old son was sitting at a desk and terrorist flew a commercial airliner into the building. Firefighters did their jobs that day. (As did the police officers and WTC security people) The brotherhood of the FDNY is unmatched.  I am very grateful to be part of that family. But we should not forget that there were civilians who did amazing things for each other. I believe there are wonderful stories of people helping people that we will never know because all those involved lost their lives. It has been said that “September 11 was the worst of humanity and the best of humanity.”

I have been blest with the most amazing family and friends. People who were with me and my daughters from the beginning of this journey. People who did “all those things I couldn’t do”. People who have become part of our life since September 11 and have enriched my life in more ways than I can count.

I am going to take the liberty of sharing a few things that I hope people realize as September 11, 2011 approaches.

  1. There are still families waiting to receive notification that their family member has been identified. 2,749 were killed at the World Trade Center in NYC. 1100 of those families have never had any human remains. All those killed at the Pentagon and Shanksville were identified – 184 and 40 respectively.
  2. There are families still being notified that “more” of their loved one has been identified.
  3. The number 2,749 does not include the homeless and probably doesn’t include illegals because that number is based on missing persons reports. The homeless had no one to file the report and families of illegals may have been afraid to file a report.
  4. That September 11 didn’t just happen in NYC but also in DC and PA.  From the first tower being hit until that same tower fell was 102 minutes. In between the second tower was hit, the Pentagon was hit, the second tower collapses, the plane crashes in PA and then the first tower hit falls.
  5. Over 1000 rescue and recovery workers have died since September 11 from illness contracted from working at the site.
  6. Many rescue workers, recovery workers and volunteers are sick from working at the site.
  7. I want you to know that when you hear of some tragic event in your town, state, country or around the world don’t doubt that there is something you can do. I know that people’s prayers, cards, and donations made a difference because I was the recipient of prayers, cards, and donations from friends and total strangers. And I can tell you those acts of kindness made a difference to me and my family.

Thanks for “listening” and don’t forget to hug your family and friends and tell them that love them 🙂