Saturday, September 8, 2012

Reflections of a 9/11 Spouse

When a passenger plane carrying 87 people from Boston was deliberately flown by five al-Quaeda hijackers into Tower One of the World Trade Center at 8:46 a.m. September 11, 2001, my husband was standing behind his desk on the 68th floor.

He was knocked to the floor by the impact.

Right now as I type this, he's sitting next to me on the family sofa. We're watching the 1995 docudrama Apollo 13, one of Greg's favorite movies. It's a story of survival, of an American triumph against great odds. (The photo here was taken by Apollo 13 as it returned to Earth after orbiting the Moon)

Our 15-year-old is at a buddy's house, playing Dungeon and Dragons and our 12-year-old son is upstairs, having gone to bed after watching a Doctor Who episode with us on BBC America.

Despite the inexplicable, undeserved blessing of still having my husband in my and our children's lives, I have had tears running down my face all evening. Understand: Greg and I do not take a moment of our lives together for granted; we are conscious and grateful every day for the extra time he was given. And yet, he understands and doesn't ask about my tears.

Every year as the anniversary of the attacks approaches, the two of us are overwhelmed with sadness. That sadness at the lives lost persists despite therapy, pastoral counseling, prayer, exercise regimes and making sure we make the most of every moment of our lives.

We have come to believe very strongly not only in raising our boys to be young men of integrity, but also in offering what gifts we have to serve others, to do what we can to make this earth a place of loving kindness.

My husband finds a lot of satisfaction in founding and running a summer basketball league as a community volunteer. Every summer, dozens of boys benefit from the time he volunteers on the court. There is no fee to participate and this activity gives boys something structured to do on long summer days and evenings. I now work as a teacher, having gone back to school for a master's degree in special education. Our younger son struggles with learning disabilities and I really have developed a heart for struggling learners.

Still, despite our efforts, nothing we do on our own will heal us. We are human and we are weak. We cling to Christ, the source of our being.

Tonight's evening prayers from the Liturgy of the Hours includes this:

Christ our Lord is mindful of all who need him, and does great things for love of them. Let us not be afraid to ask him for all our needs.
– Show us your loving kindness.
Lord, we know that the good things we have received today have come as a gift from you:
  may we receive them with thankfulness and learn how to give.
– Show us your loving kindness.
Saviour and light of all people, keep missionaries in your special care:
  may the light of your Spirit burn strongly in them.
– Show us your loving kindness.
Grant that the world may be filled with the knowledge of your truth;
  help us to carry out all you have called us to do.
– Show us your loving kindness.
You healed the sickness and pain of your brothers:
  Bring healing and comfort to the spirit of man.
– Show us your loving kindness.
Give rest to the faithful departed;
  and bring them to praise you in eternity.
– Show us your loving kindness.


  1. Allison, thank you for the every day-ness of the effects of that day and its aftermath. When there is such a push to "get over it already," it's more important than ever to hear the stories of life afterwards. Blessings.

  2. I have been thinking of all of you as the anniversary approaches... I was close, but yet far removed compared to what happened to your husband, and by extension, to you. Nonetheless,I feel overwhelmed myself. Someone that I know visited NYC the other day and innocently emailed me a lovely photo of the site that he took. I was surprised at my own reaction, which was very emotional.

    It is a day that changed all of our lives. I am very grateful to know you out here, and having met all four of you as well. Every day is a blessing and a miracle.

    Wishing you all peace.

  3. Beautiful, wonderful and grateful is this peace! Yes, we are nothing if left to ourselves. We are grateful to God that we exist. This gratefulness to God for our existence is manifested when we do good to others, particularly for people in need, without expecting anything in return! Thanks for the write up! Your love for your husband and your family and your love for God, moves us!! Thanks. Keep it up.

  4. Wow, thank you for sharing your witness to that awful day in our country's history....actually our world's history. Bless you both, there should never be a day when we take our lives for granted.


  5. God bless you! May you find peace. I had the opportunity to visit (2x) the site of Flight 93 in Schenksville, PA, and found the experience tearful.

  6. God bless you. May we never forget. You mentioned you were watching Apollo 13, so was I. I have seen it many times and it is one of my favorite movies too.

  7. If you really want your kids to be Christlike men of integrity then don´t allow their God given imaginations to be sullied or even damaged by ungodly images such as those in Dungeons and Dragons...get them off it and protect them. I have seen harm done by this game! There are plenty of other boyishly violent games that can do less harm. Don´t underestimate the power of our Ancient Enemy to attack just where we are not your case your kids.

  8. Allison,
    What a testimony to God's magnanimity. This story makes all of us humble, and should draw a sense of gratitude in all of us...
    Fr Silver

  9. Allison, my heart rejoices with you & your husband. Love overcomes evil. You must be very special. Each creature gives glory to God. Additionally, we humans can learn from history and make choices that will shape the Future toward Truth, Beauty & Goodness.