Mothers Share Their Sept. 11 Stories
Moms Face 9/11
I must admit I cringed when my editor first asked me to write
profiles of mothers who had lost a husband or a child in the Sept. 11 terrorist
attacks. How could I find out how these moms were doing without aggravating
their sorrow? Plus, weren't they sick of the media microscope?
The answers to my questions came shortly after I sent out an
email to some victims' rights and family groups, asking if there were mothers
interested in sharing how they've picked up the pieces after 9/11. The story is
meant to be a positive one, I said, hopefully something that will be helpful to
My phone rang, and then it rang again, and again over the next
few days. Several women -- even those that weren't mothers -- volunteered some
of the most intimate and painful details of their lives.
They weren't looking for pity or the media spotlight, however,
as critics have suggested of some survivors. These women said they were willing
to talk if their experiences could comfort others.
Almost all of them did choke up at some point during the
interview, but instead of merely displaying their vulnerability, the tears
seemed to bolster their resolve. For their fallen loved one's sake, they
weren't taking this lying down. Each of them had a mission -- whether it was to
lobby for a thorough investigation of the World Trade Center collapse, to start
a support group, to pursue a dream of their loved one's, or to get the rest of
the family through the crisis.
Their collective voices resonated with strength and supported
the idea that something positive can come out of tragedy. Yet they all
dismissed suggestions that they were doing anything remarkable. Each day, they
say they just get up like everyone else, and do their best.
Here are some of their amazing stories.
Facing the Challenge
Life was demanding enough when Laura Weinberg Aronow and her
husband, Richard, worked together as a team to care for their 4-year-old
autistic child, Willie. But when Rich died while working as a Port Authority
lawyer in Tower 1 of the World Trade Center, the full responsibility of
Willie's care fell on Laura.
"I knew the most important thing I could possibly do was to
get Willie into a school," Laura said, noting that the constant sympathy
calls and random visits to the house bothered her son. Willie had still hoped
that his daddy was alive, and resented any suggestions to the contrary.
He went back to diapers and stopped going to the bathroom on
his own because he associated toilet training with his dad. Because Willie had
also not developed verbal skills yet, he was only able to sign the word
"sad" over and over again.