Since September 11, 2001, people have asked me when I knew Bruce was dead. I can’t tell you an exact day. At some point within the first week or so, I had a dream about Bruce in the towers. I dreamt he heard the sound of the floors collapsing above him and he tried even harder to get people out. He whispered he loved his girls (that was what he called E, M and I) and then he was face to face with God.
After Sept 18 meeting and the dream, I knew he was never coming home and it was time to begin planning his memorial service. I had told one of the other wives from Squad 41 that I would be the first wife to declare my husband dead and plan a service. Of course there was the legal side of that – filing a missing person’s report and requesting a death certificate. My sister would take care of contacting the powers that be. A NYPD detective would come to my home and leave the report. My sister and I would sit at my kitchen table and we would complete a missing person’s report. Weight, height, tattoos… but there are questions you have never even thought of – attached or unattached ears??? That same detective would come back and pick up the report.
We would also need to deal with the DNA request. Squad 41 had already given the medical examiner’s office Bruce’s comb, a t-shirt and toothbrush from the firehouse. When we were at the “leave your DNA at the door meeting”, my sister had inquired about my daughters being able to go to a lab near our home to give DNA samples instead of in the hotel ballroom. We had decided that we wouldn’t ask my 82-year-old mother in law to do this. My older daughter decided that she was going to be the DNA sample giver.
There were 3 groups of people I had to know were okay with having a Memorial Service – my daughters, my mother in law and the firefighters from Squad 41. My sister and I sat on the living room floor with my daughters and I would ask them “Where do you think Daddy is right now?” They both would respond “in heaven”. I would reply “Okay then it is time to have a Memorial Service.” “But what if you are wrong?” “I have no problem with your dad walking into his own memorial service but we need to plan one. And I don’t know how we are going to get through this, or birthdays, or Christmas but if a week ago someone would have said we would have to go through what we have already gone through we never would have believed them. And God has gotten us this far and He will get us through the rest.” I would have a telephone conversation with my sister-in-law and she would agree. My mother in law had scheduled a meeting with her lawyer to change her power of attorney to her daughter so I knew she was thinking Bruce wasn’t coming home. The firefighters were sure they would find Bruce and the other men. They spoke of voids. I told them I hoped they would find Bruce but we needed to have a service. After discussion with my family, close friends, pastor and the fire department, we decided on Saturday September 29. It was about 10 days away but that would give us time to plan and people to travel.
At some point both of my daughters would come to me separately and ask me the same three questions. Can we still live in this house? Can we still go to EC? And what will happen when we get married? Yes, we will live in this house. Yes, I will make sure you can stay at EC. And we don’t have to worry about when you get married because right now you are too young to get married and you don’t have a boyfriend.