We sit on the porch on my last night, traces of the day’s heat lingering, chimes softly keeping rhythm with the breeze. It has turned dark. The tip of Gracie’s cigarette brightens and fades as she takes a drag. I can smell her Evening in Paris, and am glad she can’t see my face as I think about life without her, unable to articulate just how I feel. I am tired of loving someone who broke my heart a thousand times, yet I cannot let her go.
My mother and the boys were asleep, Chris in a big-boy bed to avoid any more stunts he’d devised trying to climb out of his crib. While I sat at the side of his bed I thought about our visit to see Santa the day before. When Santa asked what they would like, Keith asked for a fire truck. Chris said, I want my Daddy back.
March wind whipped at my skirt and I thought about the warm restaurant and the pie that comes around on a carousel, but when my father crossed the street he didn’t say hello. He lit up a Camel with yellow fingers and smoked as if I wasn’t there. Finally he looked at me, spit a fleck of tobacco from his tongue, and handed me four tens. I need carfare, I said, abandoning the idea of pie. His mouth twisted into a grimace as he reached into his pocket and handed me a dime, jaywalked across 42nd Street, and disappeared inside the revolving doors.
You all know my story, the word terrorism that brings a shiver to our bones, the dark and unnatural date of 9/11/76 that left me a widow, and twenty-five years later, the date that caused fear and anxiety and great sorrow in every American. It is a date for reflecting and for looking forward, and each year I wish I could turn back the clock, but know that without tragedy there would be no growth.