Sharing portions of Chapter 2 (unedited) over the next few days –
September 12 & September 13, 2001
Joy comes in the morning
This was role reversal. Christine, my baby sister, coming to help me. I was her big sister by almost 13 years. I had changed her diaper, taken her to Disney World, driven her to school, been her ballet teacher. When she was in high school, I was her employer. She graduated from high school just weeks after my first child was born. Through college she had continued to teach for me. Law school ended our employee/employer connection.
At times our relationship had been more mother/daughter than sisters but here she was standing in my kitchen early on Wednesday September 12 with her suitcase in hand stating,
“I have come to do all those things you can’t do and to stay for as long as you need me.”
I knew without a doubt there were things she could do that I couldn’t – navigate the legal system, ask the right questions, identify a body.
As I hoisted myself up to sit on the kitchen counter I asked “but how? Don’t you have any cases?” After a brief stint as a corporate lawyer, Christine had become an assistant district attorney in Schenectady, New York.
She sat down at the table. “It’s weird. I don’t have any cases. Everyone pled guilty.” Confused and not sure if she was lying, I was grateful.
My daughters and Christine had a great relationship, so my sister’s presence was not only a blessing to me, but it gave me confidence that my girls were in good hands. To see Meghan and Christine greet each other with their elaborate combination dance/handshake created a sense of normal on a day very little was known. The telling of the very little we knew “he is unaccounted” was told and retold as family, friends and acquaintances called, showed up on my door step or emailed.
Throughout the day the television was turned on to glean information. Real information was a much-needed commodity. The television was not a reliable source as it seemed to me that stories were broadcast without verification. I don’t fault the media for that because the need for information was frantic. It was a rollercoaster that wasn’t beneficial, so the television was off more than it was on. School was canceled for the day but reopened on Thursday. We hung close to home waiting for news, waiting for the other shoe to drop, waiting to know what to do next. Every time the phone rang I held my breath as I lifted the receiver would it be Bruce’s voice on the other end?
By mid-morning I called Squad 41 to see if there was any news. A young firefighter answered the phone. I smiled as he commented that he was all alone and didn’t know anything. I could imagine his fellow firefighters telling him stay here (at firehouse) and answer the phone but offering no other guidance to a newbie who had no clue. I requested we set up a schedule that they (Squad 41) would call us (wives of the unaccounted) twice a day whether there was anything to report or not. He thought that was a good idea and promised to pass it along. Firefighters were showing up on my doorstep. The brotherhood whether FDNY or GWL or wherever were fulfilling their promise to care for the families. Many were covered in ash, looking exhausted, offering bagels, cold cuts, assistance in whatever form I requested and the assurance of “voids.”
From that first night when “joy comes in the morning” kept running in my head, I knew God was the only sure thing. I sought guidance from the Bible and each time God gave me what I needed and more than I expected. I wasn’t doing any intense Bible study. Since my ability to concentrate was gone, I was only looking up verses I knew. I didn’t trust myself to remember even the simplest verses correctly, so I read them slowly and deliberately.
A well-known verse in our home was “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”Many times, Emily and Meghan had heard me quote Philippians 4:8 as a qualifier. Does the movie you want to see, the thing you want to do pass the test? Is it true, is it right, pure and admirable? On September 13 as I looked up that verse, my eyes drifted up the page to the verses above.As I read Philippians 4: 4 – 7, it was as if God had written those words for me for this moment. “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again Rejoice”– there was no stipulation you don’t have to rejoice if your husband is laying at the bottom of the World Trade Center. There was just Rejoice! “Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.”The Lord is near. He is near to me and my girls and Bruce. “Do not be anxious for anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”Do not be anxious for anything – God has got this. He is in control. He promises His peace. My heart won’t be totally broken, and I won’t lose my mind because God will guard my heart and mind. Thank you. Thank you. As I reread the “whatever” verses I noticed another promise “And the God of peace will be with you” I marked the date in my Bible. The Bible Bruce had given me for Christmas in 1992.