Two Paths Toward 9/11 and Beyond

Death knocked on the door this morning,

cold hands crumbled smoldering towers of steel,

as the candles were extinguished by bitter breath,

sorrowful clouds permeated blue skies this morning,

hopes and dreams were shattered by windows of pain.


In 1996, a few years after graduating college, I went to a headhunter in Manhattan. She sent me out for two job interviews that week. The first one was in Tower One of the World Trade Center. I cannot recall which floor it was on, but can recall how I felt when I approached the beautiful Twin Towers. They framed the city for me.

I grew up in a borough of NYC and I always got so excited whenever I saw them from the Staten Island Ferry. I will never forget that view. They showed me which way to go many times. They will always mean so much to me. They were a part of my childhood, they were romantic, and they were the setting for many television and movie scenes. But they were not to be the location of my demise, for I was sent on a different path.

My second job interview was in Midtown Manhattan. I received a job offer right away and I took it. I worked at that job as an administrative assistant until 2002.

Around the same time my husband, who I didn’t meet until 2004, was faced with a big decision. Should he take the test to become a New York City Fireman, or should he try to enroll in Nursing School? Both would have been excellent choices, and both would offer rewarding careers.

One of his best friends at the time chose to take the test and wait to be called to service. They had many discussions about it. My husband ultimately chose to enter St. Vincent’s Nursing School on Staten Island instead, after a few years and much thought.

He is here today. His brave and heroic friend Jeff from Engine Co. 10 is not.

My husband chose a path of saving lives by being a nurse, and his friend also chose a path of saving lives, and lost his in the process. His friend was a hero before September 11th, and an even bigger one after. He thinks of him often and always remembers his humor, bravery and love for the FDNY. He also thinks of what may have happened if he chose the same path and was at the World Trade Center that fateful day.

I had two possible paths toward a career and was offered a job that was thankfully not located in Tower One of the World Trade Center. My husband chose to be a registered nurse instead of a member of the FDNY who lost 343 souls on 9/11.

Our paths eventually led us to each other. We talked about September 11th soon after we met. We were both from Staten Island and the subject of the tragedy comes up often. Everyone was either there or knew somebody who was. Two hundred seventy five people with ties to Staten Island perished. Almost everyone you knew lost a relative, a neighbor or a friend. My husband told me about his great loss of one of his best friends. I told him of neighbors and acquaintances I knew of who lost their lives, and of my sister’s luck in being late for work that day. She worked in Tower One.

I told him of the extreme fear and sadness of working in Manhattan that day, and of walking home to my apartment via the FDR Drive, among many ashen people. People who I did not know, but whose faces I will never forget. People who were wandering around aimlessly, some without shoes.

There are street signs and many other honors for the victims lost from Staten Island. Every time I visit there, I envision the footsteps of my neighbor’s brother, and of those lost from my hometown. You can imagine their faces and whisper their names. You can almost hear their voices on a crisp fall day.

So many people were lost in an instant, and my hometown will never fully recover from that loss. The memories are always with us, they creep back effortlessly and heartbreakingly especially this time of year.

My husband and I moved off of Staten Island in 2011. We now live in Northern Virginia, closer to the Pentagon. We will pay our respects to those 125 victims someday soon.

We are very grateful for the paths we chose. Paths which led us to each other. Paths which led us to a new life here in Virginia with two great kids. Paths which may not have intersected had we made other decisions.

We often think of his good friend and of those lost on September 11th, and of the paths they took. They were just going about their day. They were just living their lives when tragedy struck. They could have been us. They could have been anyone.

September 11th is always a sad and somber day for us. We barely put on the television for the reminders are still too close and painful. It is a day that should teach us all that every second matters and that life is short. That we must hold those we love close and dear, and cherish every single moment with them.

Our paths will lead us back to Ground Zero soon. Back to see the beautiful new memorial and museum, back to pay our respects, back to where we came from.

Our paths will always lead us home. We should honor all of the victims of September 11th by choosing kinder, gentler paths. Paths of empathy and compassion instead of anger and destruction.

Paths that lead to helping others more and making a difference. Paths that would make all the Angels proud as we salute them each and every year.

We will always remember them. We will always love them. We will spread that love to others and make this world a better place.

For when all is said and done love is all that matters.

That love will always remain, as well as the pieces of broken shattered windows of pain.

dada kids farm walking


Kathy ❤





To My Daughter with Anxiety

I wish you could see yourself the way I see you. The way your freckles frame your beautiful face. The way you shrug your shoulders when you are unsure of yourself. The way your smile and laughter brightens up a room. You are a perfect reflection of love and all that is good in this world.

You are pure magic. You are the light of my life. Ever since you were placed upon my chest after birth, you have managed to fill up a huge place in my heart. I became a mom when you were born. I wouldn’t want to be anything else, for you bring more meaning and love into my life than I have ever known.

You may not know this, and I am sorry if you cannot comprehend how much you mean to me. It is difficult to put into words how the stars came down from the sky when you were born. They brought you to me, my shining special girl. You are so amazing, and you have no idea of your worth. Never doubt your worth, never let anyone put you down or make you feel less than you are.

You have been struggling with anxiety on and off for a few years. I know it has been very difficult for you and I would do anything to take these feelings away. You are only ten years old and should not have to face such misfortune at such a young age. You should be living happily, frivolously and free of such adversity.

You are having a hard time adjusting to middle school and all the changes you are facing. You are no longer a small elementary school student, you now carry a heavy load of honors classes and much more responsibility. Recess is a thing of the past, and playtime is replaced with commitments and worry.

Your old friends are just a blur in the busy hallways, and new faces crowd the overwhelming corridors of your new life. You are trying to adjust, but your anxiety is holding you back. It drags you down, it clouds your brain, it holds you back from all you are meant to accomplish.

But, I have no doubt that you will overcome this difficult challenge and accomplish great things. Anxiety is tough, but you are not ashamed to admit you are struggling, you are not afraid to ask for help from the school counselor and from your after school psychologist. You are the bravest girl that I know and I couldn’t be prouder of you.

You are putting yourself out there, you are climbing mountains and you are breaking down the walls that are holding  you back. You keep fighting every single day, and you never give up. Though you leave the house in tears often, you come back better, stronger and more powerful than you have ever been. This will build your character, this will expand your ability to feel empathy for others.

I am in awe of our strength, your courage and your willingness to help others though you are struggling yourself.

You are the kind of person I admire. You are the kind of person I still aspire to be like.

Though you are still so young, you have such wisdom packed into your little soul, and enough love in you to change lives.

I know that you will overcome your anxiety and live a wonderful, fulfilling life.

Never be ashamed of asking for help when you require it, those who do are the most courageous people in the world.

I am so proud of you and always will be. From the moment I first saw you, you were my stars, you were my heaven on Earth, you were mine.

My sweet darling daughter, never forget that you can overcome whatever life throws your way. Always keep trying, always be yourself, always stay kind.

I cannot be prouder of you, and I will always be in your corner.

Forever walking by your side. With each passing moonlight mile.

My sweet daughter, how I love you…