In front of me as I write is a photograph, snapped July 25, 2001 on a Kodak Advantix by our eight year old. It was taken on the cedar deck we had just built in the backyard of where we lived in Freeport, NY. In this photo, Dave and I are retiring on our newly purchased picnic set on a sweltering mid-summer evening following a vigorous day of domestic beautification. Dylan, our four year old, naps in a chair beside us. There is a slightly scuffed carrot cake on the table that despite its appearance, promises the divinity reminiscent of the day we lit the unity candle fourteen years ago. I don’t recall what bauble was contained in the little box as much as the scent of his bare chest, glistening with July humidity, and the smile reserved only for me that said, “thank you dear for giving me this moment.” We were backyard casual, keeping it low key because having the boys celebrate the sacrament and joy of our union, that began six and ten years before their conception, was where we wanted to be. We were the future we wanted them to see. There were still many five-star anniversaries ahead once the boys tired of us in their teens. And fifteen felt more significant for a grander affair. We were grateful. We were proud. We were home.
Next to that photo I have queued another one snapped from the same deck, one year later, the morning of July 25th . A vaporous “X” marked the cloudless cerulean sky and a single red rose bloomed at the edge of the cedar where we once ate cake. We can sense that outside the frame, beyond where the jets fly off the page, there is a void. An infinite vastness that recedes to the heavens, undefined.
When we mourn the loss of someone we love, there is a human tendency to see beyond the mortal margins for less tangible, yet personal signs of spiritual affirmations. In order to validate our existence to prove to ourselves that we are more than just a shaky leaf in the fugacious tree of life, we innervate a path of synapses in our emotional cortex where only the bereft go. Seeing beyond where others see to appease the pain and say “yes, I am here, you are aware of me and we are connected in this moment. It is a hyper-awareness, or a sixth sense to what is otherwise dismissible in the ordinary. A phone that rings without offering a voice or dial tone, always at the time you are preparing supper. A doorbell that chimes precisely at 6:45 PM, and no one is hiding in the bushes. An orb beside you in a photograph in the absence of his presence. Or a kiss in the sky on the day you were wed. I say, he is here, in this moment to re-affirm our connection, beyond flesh and earth, there are souls and love that remain in a spiritual phase. The intangible becomes tangible. The heart and our spirit are re-innervated with a new sense of hope that we are more than just atomic matter. A hope that whispers we are significant, we are not alone and we can embrace another dawn.
Like I’ve stated before, none of us need anniversaries to remind us of what we cannot forget. Especially when similar “celebrations” are happening simultaneously all around us. This year, my father who married two weeks after Dave and I, are celebrating, as are our our good friends who married two weeks before us. Another friend just returned from Tahiti for their thirtieth. He’ll give her roses and she’ll carefully trim the stems and place them in water. They’ll embrace the night together and add a new pearl to their thread of life.
So today I will embrace myself, cherish my rose and find my pearl. I am so grateful to have shared a life with you dear, to be the mother of your sons and I would do it over again. I loved you in life, never dismissing a moment. No foreign act of hate can erase what remains in my heart. Our love lives on in the positive engagements I have with other selfless humans and in the pages that your sons will turn.
Happy 30th Anniversary! I love you forever Dear…
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No one needs bumper stickers or museum kiosks to remind them of what they cannot forget. Most kids aren’t reminded of their parent’s date of death by the vehicle ahead, when heading to the Little League field. Lunch out with a friend isn’t usually jolted by political debates over the circumstances of your spouse’s death, leaking over from the neighboring table. And strangers don’t typically run up to snap your photo while posing in front of your loved-one’s memorial.
I am Deborah Garcia and I belong to the 9/11 widow’s club. My sons, the 9/11 orphan’s club. My circumstance is not like most widows and widowers who lay their loved ones to rest and mourn within the confines of family and friends. I lost my husband, instantly, in a national tragedy, along with 1,609 other spouse’s and sixteen years later, most Americans share my grief. What’s on everyone’s mind every September in the developed media-driven world, is the modern day tragedy that has come to be known as 9/11. 2,977 civilians were murdered in the largest attack on American soil since December 7, 1941, and my husband, David Garcia was among them. The grief still resonates deep in the memories of those old enough to have known, those of us who were close enough to have been directly impacted, and those who fight to protect our nation’s borders.
How do we move through this? How do people adapt to a new normal while living in a continuous thread of multiple simultaneous messages from multiple directions? How do we nurture our children of public tragedy, in a world where there are no privacy settings?
This is my endeavor to share my experience of moving from surviving sudden life interruptions in a national crisis that is personal and persistent, while composing a new life. To find healing and peace in one single day.
I am interested in learning how others move from similar circumstances to reinvent their lives and raise a new, productive generation with hope and joy. If you like my content, I invite you to comment. If you have a story related to 9/11/01, or any global tragedy, I invite you to share and engage in my blog form.
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