Excerpt: 'Love You, Mean It'

That evening, A bond was forged. There were no awkward pauses between us. No one felt sorry for anyone. No one said, "It's going to be okay...." We were four women who could look into one another's eyes and recognize what we found there. And by the end of the night we'd agreed to the following: We would go to Ground Zero for the anniversary. We knew it would be incredibly hard and painful, but knowing we'd have one another to lean on made it seem possible for the first time. We wanted to go to honor our husbands, but also to honor the thousands of others who'd perished that day. Then, the following weekend, we would go away together. When Claudia suggested the trip, the rest of us agreed. We sensed that the simple fact of having something to look forward to would help give us the strength to get through the weeks ahead. Someone suggested Scottsdale, Arizona. Why not? It was as good a place as any. In the last toast of the evening, we drank again to "The Boys." And to us. "To the Widows Club."

Julia: In the cab heading home that night, I remember having a feeling of actual hopefulness, like that feeling you get after a first date when you know you want to see that person again. I knew I wanted to spend time with these women; I wanted to confide in them. They understood what I was going through and I felt safe in their company. That night, for me, was like coming up from the deep end of the swimming pool and I'd just reached the surface and could breathe again.

Pattie: Ten months later, I was barely functioning, not able to truly connect with anyone. It was as if I was always floating outside of situations. But these women gave me the sense that I didn't have to pull back into isolation; I could become involved with the people around me. It wasn't the amount of time that we'd known one another that counted -- I'd only just met Ann and Julia -- it was the experiences we'd shared already. Now I was curious to see what we might share in the future.

Ann: At the time of that first meeting, I was still reeling from grief and fear and loneliness of life without Ward. He was the one person who would give me the confidence to move forward and the self-esteem to believe that I could manage on my own. I needed his comforting and his reassurance that it would be okay. I needed him to help me, hold me, and make me feel better. But he wasn't there. Now there were these three women in my life and we were going to help one another. It was an understanding that existed between us from that first meeting. They were my new friends and we were going to try to make life a bit more bearable, somehow. It was amazing how quickly it came about, that commitment. It was like something was being sparked in all of us -- signs of life after a winter that had lasted into July.

Claudia: I could tell that everyone had more than gotten along. I knew that we were going to see one another again. I was hopeful that we would really take this trip to Scottsdale together. But even so, when each of us stepped through the front door to pitch darkness again, it hit us just the same. Our husbands were gone, murdered. And in that instant, anything good is lost. Still, every one of us can relate to the words Julia wrote in her journal that night: "This evening has been the happiest I've had since Tommy died. In a journal of bad days, this has been a good day."

Claudia, Julia, Pattie, and Ann

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