“Mrs. Van Hine, this is the mayor’s office calling. Please hold for the mayor.”
A moment later, the Mayor of New York City came on the line. “Mrs. Van Hine, I want to express my condolences on behalf of the City of New York.”
“Thank you so much for calling. I appreciate you taking the time. I know you must be very busy and had many people to call.”
“Actually, I am almost done with the list.”
When I relayed the conversation to my dad, he commented, “The anniversary is approaching, and he wants to be able to say he called all the victim’s families.”
To be honest, the comment left me stunned. Eventually I realized it was an extraordinary time, and maybe the almost done comment was an unguarded moment. Or perhaps it showcased the difference between a businessman and a politician.
Our invitation to attend NYC’s first September 11 memorial service arrived mid- summer. As the date loomed on the horizon, I felt uneasy. Was there an appropriate thing to do? What were the expectations?
In a conversation with Carol, she said, “Do what you want to do.”
Those six little words gave me the freedom I needed. It lifted the burden of expectations—real or imagined.
Emily, Meghan, and I decided not to go to the memorial service at all.
We agreed that, on the anniversary of the attack, we wanted to be together, just the three of us—just as we had been on September 11, 2001. We had always felt that the world—family, friends, firefighters—had arrived on September 12, 2001. But the hours immediately following the attacks had belonged to us.
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