“Your words bring 9/11 so much closer to home than the statistics we read of death, associated with that horrendous day. You’ve done the same thing for 9/11 that C.D.P. Bryan did about Vietnam in Friendly Fire. (A Behrend, VA)
“It’s amazing that although each day is always the same twenty-four hours, some days will change the course of your life forever.” (K. Kobayashi, Japan)
“You have a really important story to tell and a strong voice to carry it. This is important stuff, both for 9/11 history but also for others who have lost under similar circumstances.” (L. Knutson., Norway)
“Your language is quite poetic and evocative. It makes an emotional subject resonate. The familiar cadence in such an unthinkable context brings everything home as powerfully as anything I’ve ever seen about 9/11. Despair, and then hope” (Bruce Cherry, Gotham Writers Workshop, NYC)
“Please read this…it is excellent writing from a World Trade Widow” (Sue Roupp, WI, Author/Teacher/Copy Editor)
My life changed the September day I first put my four year old on a school bus. With his little legs sprouting from denim shorts just above the knees and a gecko-green backpack filled with rainbow markers and a sketch pad on his back, he paused on the second step to declare, “I’m a big by now Mommy, bye.” Wearing his name and bus number on his chest, he waved me off with intrepid enthusiasm as the big yellow bus roared away. Framed by the cracked concrete walkway below and a warm, cloudless, forget-me-not sky, I turned and took a glassy-eyed step back. Bright-colored Muppets moved about in the safety of their New York City neighborhood in the 32” RCA. The phone in my palm displayed 8:35 AM. With thumb hovering over the call button, I hesitated …you can wait twenty minutes for him to reach his office. Somewhere between Big Bird’s lullaby and the alighting of button 97, my prologue began.
The oldest of 3 girls, I was born on Oct 25, 1963, and grew up on the south shore of Long Island in the village of East Patchogue, NY. The Great South Bay and beaches of Fire Island punctuated the landscape of my childhood. I had the benefit of growing up with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins of many generations residing in the NY Metro area, some only blocks away. My parents struggled with finances, their relationship secondary to my mother’s bi-polar disorder, and subsequently, my mother’s metastatic breast cancer. In 1976 she was hospitalized for six weeks and diagnosed with Bi-polar disease, then six months later had a mastectomy. She was 32, I was 13. In August, 1981, I ventured 300 miles to upstate New York to attend college at SUNY Cortland. Three weeks into this new chapter of my life, began another when meeting Dave, the love of my life, in a chance encounter on a sunny campus sidewalk. It was Thursday, September 11th. Just two days into my second semester, Dave stopped by to welcome me back, when a knock at my door closed the first chapter on my life. Relatives had arrived to inform me that my mom had died, and I journeyed home again.
I received my B.A. in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology in June, 1985 and began my professional career teaching for the New York City Board of Education in September, relocating to Queens, one train stop away from where David was living. We began building our careers and urban lifestyle together in 1986 when we rented the top floor of a cape in Valley Stream, Long Island and we were married on July 25, 1987 (There is a story for the paranormal events that took place that day). We purchased our home in Freeport, Long Island in September 1988 and I completed a Master’s of Science at CUNY Brooklyn College the following spring.
In April, 1993 we welcomed our first son, who was in a hurry to arrive at 34 weeks, 3oz. shy of 6lbs. Our family was complete in January 1997, with the arrival of our second son. David and I embraced parenthood with a passionate ardency that matched our affection for one another. Our lives moved with the speed of a newspaper press, juggling kids, house, work and play schedules. David returned home from work in the evenings to pitch baseballs, teach logical thinking strategies over spaghetti, bathe and read bed time stories. We reviled in the joys of life’s discoveries with the boys by providing them with experiences in travel and the arts, changing our activities with the seasons. Winter brought bi-monthly ski trips to VT…spring, little league and Easter egg hunts…summers were spent at a cabana in Lido Beach with friends and in 1999 we began a new annual tradition at a family-centered camp on Great Pond in ME. Fall was marked by the excitement of a new school year and pumpkin picking at east-end farms. In the summer of 2001, we spent many summer weekends in our bow-rider on the mid-Hudson River. In nine years of parenting, we had grown into an exceptionally close nuclear unit, always engaging in even the mundane everyday tasks, such as trips to home depot, underscored by David’s visual impairment and inability to drive.
As I approached my 38th birthday in the autumn of 2001, we were living our lives, planning our future, building our dreams. I was feeling a new sense of relief, that I had dodged the insidious fate my mother could not, in the equivalent year of her last birthday. I had a birthday mammogram and recall looking at all that was around me in the mirror, saying to Dave, “I’ve made it, we’re gonna be alright.” I believed that I had actually managed to escape the tragic fate of mental illness and physical misfortune that undulates through every branch of my family tree for generations?
On the morning of September 11th, the alarm clock did not sound and we arose to a startle by the beaming yellow sun illuminating the bedroom. David sprang out of bed to get our 8-1/2 year old son ready for the school bus and to get himself off to work, dismissing my urging to slow down and aim for the next train. I helped him by setting out his clothing and putting a lunch bag together. He was in hurry. He worked at One World Trade Center, 97th floor.
In my professional life I had developed technical and descriptive character writing in client reporting. I practiced as a Speech-Language and Feeding therapist serving at-risk and medically-fragile pediatrics and Spanish-speaking families in the NY metro area from 1985-2001. Since the first key strokes in “Times New Roman” sent out an all-points bulletin to the dozen or so significant others in my address book, just before the twelfth midnight of September, I have been documenting my personal journey in the footprints of what has come to be known as 9-11. The emails spread and I received comments from friends of friends, friends of relatives, co-workers of colleagues across companies, state lines and religious well-wishers seeking an outlet for their prayers, with requests to join my email list. Long before social media was a noun, I have been chronicling my life experiences and thoughts in digital, pencil and Jpegs in exchange for sleepless fits. I have filled journals with letters to David, reporting the events in our lives, pouring out my daily frustrations and emotions for him and continuing to share the continuity of our life in stop-motion, as though he were off on a war front. I pulled over in parking lots to pen many of the comments and exchanges the boys had in the backseat of the Voyager. I’ve filled holiday mailboxes with annual synopsis’ of our life highlights. I began my formal writing journey in Sept. 2012, learning to write memoir under the encouraging guidance of Sue Roupp, Rouppgroup, Inc., at the Writer’s Barn in Shelburne, Vermont. I joined the Burlington Writer’s Workshop in 2015 and in 2017, began formal studies in essay and blog writing. I have poetry and essay submissions at the National September 11th Memorial Museum in NYC and began blogging on my own website in July 2017. I also teach English to a vibrant group of refugees in Burlington, Vermont. A place where resilient people from diverse cultures and religious beliefs gather to help one another achieve a common goal…develop a voice to rebuild livelihoods, independence and integration into communities.
My writing flows from the experience of loss I’ve known all my life and the love in my heart. Grieving is not so linear nor definitive that it unfolds within the confines of a staged process and for large-scale, public loss, the script plays out in a never-ending story. September 11, 2001 changed our individual and collective lives beyond our borders often with community and political hyper-vigilance fueled by fear and self-righteous agendas, while troops re-build communities, quilters stitch story boards, and children sing of. Pernicious human acts occur every day on this beautiful sphere where we all coexist while doctors cross borders, rescuers sift concrete and midwives birth babies, of all origins. Misinformation is spread in social media like a virulent campaign agent, feigning the truth that can only be known by the individuals whose lives are the story. From these pages, it is my goal for a book to emerge that will reveal my truth while giving readers hope in desperate times.
Thank you for visiting my website. Everyone has a story that begs to be told and I invite you to subscribe and share your comments to find healing, compassion and peace in each single day.
What’s your story?
© All rights reserved, 2017
Hi Deborah —
This is Jane Eisenstadt, the former Middle School Director at Lawrence Woodmere. I was Googling things 9/11 related to people I know and came across this. I’m beyond heartbroken to read about Davin; I remember him fondly. And heartbroken for you. I wish I knew what to say that could provide comfort. I hope you’ll be able to find moments of joy between your sadness and grief.
Hello Jane. So glad you found me. Thank you for your sentiment. Joy is a country that’s in lockdown now. I hope you are well.
Deborah – We met at an IWWG conference when you were working on your Worldtradewidow project. You have created such a beautiful, moving tribute. Your way with words took me at the core of your pain, love for your husband and children, your losses, but also of what resilience is. You are a selfless soul who deserves all that life can still give to you and your son. With my admiration and heartfelt wishes.
Thank you Marie-Claude