I wasn't sure if I was going to post today... I probably should have written this one in advance.
First I want to tell you a little bit about my cousin, Christy. She should be celebrating her 41st birthday in two weeks. She won't be celebrating because her life, along with the lives of 2,976 others, were taken on September 11, 2011 by the most horrendous act of terror any of us will see in our lifetimes.
Christy died 2 weeks before her 29th birthday. She loved math, and numbers; that's what brought her to work at Marsh & Mclennan, what led her to be on the 98th floor of the North Tower on that fateful day. She also loved to dance, and to travel, and most of all - she LOVED her NY Yankees! She was beautiful and confident, and other than my own sister, she was the girl I looked up to the most growing up. I thought she was so cool, especially when she was in middle & high school and I was still just a kid. She dressed so hip, and she had so many friends, and she took Spanish in school! I thought that was so awesome then. The best part was that she always made time for her pesky little cousin. She always took the time to play board games or fashion plates with me... she always made me feel like I fit in, even though she was 6 years older. Not too long before she died we went out to a club together. We danced the night away & had an awesome time. It makes me angry that we didn't get to have more nights like that. Our time was cut too short. My aunt & uncle will never see their daughter walk down the aisle or have children, her sister will never be a maid of honor or an aunt herself... all because Christy decided to get up and go to work early that day. It is a tragedy beyond any words; and to think that 2, 976 other families suffer the same pain, that thought is almost unfathomable.
In 2001 I was finishing up my bachelors degree at Adelphi University. I never took classes before 10 am as a rule. I am NOT a morning person. It was weird when my phone rang, I guess it was around 8:50 am. It was my dad. "Turn on channel 4 he said, it seems that a small prop plane hit the Trade Center, we can see the smoke from here". My dad's office had just moved from 7 World Trade that May, to an office in Jersey City. While he missed the initial strike, he could see the rest of the events unfolding from his office window. There was lots of speculation on the news, and while we were on the phone we watched the second plane hit, he from his office window, me while watching news 4. It was the most terrifying and painful thing I have ever seen in my life. My dad told me they were evacuating his office, but that he would try calling Christy in her office before he left and I should do the same. I tried calling her office for about an hour, until the building collapse. We checked in with my aunt & uncle all day, to no avail.
I went over to my neighbors house where we watched the news together, stunned. I couldn't believe what was happening. I called in sick to work for the rest of that week. I felt physically ill. On day 3, my cousin Jen and I went into the city with a picture of Christy, searching for her and hoping she would turn up somewhere. Maybe she had amnesia & was lost. Maybe she was in a hospital somewhere and couldn't identify herself. Of course we had no luck, and what we saw there was utter devastation. The sirens, the smell and the yellow haze in the air, these are not sights or sounds or smells I will ever forget. We kept checking in, unwilling to give up hope even though we knew from the news that the hope of finding anyone alive was slim to none. We held out hope for a while, but it was eventually made painfully clear that no one could have survived the heat of that fire. The plane flew pretty much directly into her office, so the fact that they never recovered any of her remains shouldn't be a surprise, as hard as it was to deal with.
In October of 2011 my dad and I went with my aunt Rita, Uncle Greg & cousin Dawn to the memorial service the city had for the victims. There they were given a box of dirt from the rubble. It wasn't much, but at least they had something. They decided to have a memorial service for Christy later that month. That box from the city is buried at Holy Rood cemetery, one of the only Catholic cemeteries on Long Island that would allow a burial without actual human remains. It is nice to have a place to go to lay flowers and say a prayer for my beautiful cousin, although I know she is always with me. This is evidenced in the fact that my son shares her birthday. He is a gift sent to me straight from heaven, and whenever I look at him I think of Chris & it makes me smile.
Last year I was able to take Ryan to down to Ground Zero, to the memorial, and try to teach him a little about what happened that day - all about the brave men and women who risked their lives trying to save others, and the many who are still succumbing to diseases they developed as a result of their efforts to rescue and recover their fellow man in the months and years that followed. I found the memorial to be a beautiful place to reflect and pray for all the souls who were lost on 9/11. As much as that area represents unspeakable violence, 11 years later I found it to be a very peaceful place.
I will return to the Freedom Tower with my family when the museum opens, hopefully at the beginning of next year. I look forward to seeing how the museum will capture the spirits of all those who sacrificed on and in the wake of that day. The way the country came together as a result of these attacks on our beautiful city of NY, the Pentagon and what probably would have been The White House had it not been for those brave souls on board Flight 93, it speaks volumes to the principals that this country was founded on. I think we've gotten away from that a lot in last few years. Too much greed and politics, not enough love and prayer.
Today I remember my beautiful cousin, Christy A. Addamo, with love and sadness. I pray for her soul, and for my Aunt, Uncle and cousin who lost so much on that day. I thank God for all of the brave men and women of the NYPD, FDNY & Port Authority Police, who acted so bravely without hesitation, and pray that those who made the ultimate sacrifice will rest in peace. Most of all I pray for our great nation, that we can somehow find the unity and solidarity that we had in the wake of 9/11, that we can all come together and take care of our own. That we can spread love and kindness, and pay it forward, because if there is one thing the attacks of September 11 taught us, it's that you never know what tomorrow will bring.
God bless, and may we NEVER FORGET 9/11/01.