The Legacy Letters: Messages of Life and Hope from 9/11 Family Members
With the 10th anniversary of the tragic events of September 11th approaching, Tuesday's Children, a non-profit organization dedicated to serving 9/11 families, has compiled a collection of hopeful and heart-breaking letters by 9/11 relatives written to their lost loved ones.
The Legacy Letters: Messages of Life and Hope From 9/11 Family Members, edited by New York Times bestselling author Brian Curtis, is chock-full of tear-inducing stories. Written by husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, daughters, nieces and brothers, the letters recount ten years of pain, resilience, wisdom, courage, inspiration, healing, and cherished memories, all in the face of such tremendous loss.
Because we thought the book was such a beautiful tribute to the 9/11 families (and would be inspiring to the MariaShriver.com community), we asked the publisher if we could excerpt a couple of our favorite letters. Believe us when we say that selecting just two was very difficult.
The first comes from Marie Halloran, the wife of Vincent Gerard Halloran, a veteran firefighter who perished in the lobby of the North Tower after leading all of his men to safety. The second comes from Melissa Pascuma-Gangi, the daughter of Michael J. Pascuma Jr., a stockbroker who was at a breakfast meeting at Windows on the World in the North Tower on the morning of 9/11.
In 2001, we were a happy family of seven. We had just finished a wonderful summer with the kids. Little did we know that in a blink of an eye, you would be gone and I would be left to raise our children alone.
About two months after we lost you, I learned that I was pregnant with our only daughter, and my due date was our sixteenth wedding anniversary. I really felt that you had given me one last precious gift from heaven. You always put so much thought and care into choosing the perfect gift and this one couldn't have been better.
Jake is now twenty-five and working full-time -- he is so hard-working like you.
Conor is working on his master's -- he is so compassionate like you.
Aidan just graduated from college -- he is so friendly like you.
Kieran just started college -- he is so funny like you.
Declan is in middle school -- can you believe it? -- he is so energetic like you.
Phelan is your precious gift to us -- she is so wittty like you.
I appreciate every minute that we had together. I am pleased to let you know that some of your wonderful traits have transferred to me and I am a more patient, caring, loving, and easygoing person. The kids might think differently, but I know it. I love you and always will.
Ten years ago I was forced into a life that I didn't want and never expected. The pain is still so strong and it is still so hard to wrap my mind around the tragedy that happened in our world, our country, our state, our family. Can you see and feel my pain, Daddy? Do you know how much I love and miss you? The sadness in my heart will never go way and when I think of, or see images of, that day it is hard for me to breathe. When I saw that tall, strong tower crumble to the ground, my happiness went with it.
The anger and sadness that I felt was then, and still is now, indescribable. I could not believe this could happen. How? Why? You were the kindest, most generous person I knew. You were so full of life and love. I felt safest when I was with you.
Part of my heart came back to me when my beautiful girls were born. Madison Michael (named after my hero) in 2005 and Ella Paige in 2009. They have allowed me to smile and live again. I think of you often and imagine a life with you in it.
I imagine you walking me down the aisle and handing me to Pete and then us having our father-daughter dance.
I imagine big family dinners that you generously take us out for and laughing because you just told one of your jokes so perfectly.
No one can take away the special memories, relationship and love we will always have for each other.
Daddy, I love and miss you today, tomorrow and forever.
Love you endlessly,
All royalties from the sale of The Legacy Letters will support Tuesday's Children's programs that support families who have been directly impacted by the events of September 11, 2001.
Reprinted from The Legacy Letters collected by Tuesday's Children by arrangement with Perigee, a member of Penguin Group (USA), Inc., Copyright (c) 2011 by Tuesday's Children.