Sunday is Sept. 11 and I can hardly believe it has been 10 years since Mike died. I can still remember very clearly where I was that day and exactly what I was doing the minute my life changed forever.
It was a glorious day outside, sunny and clear. My boys, Daniel (8) and David (7) were at school. They were so sweet and innocent. After I put them on the bus that morning I went to our church to work with some of my friends. We were recovering chairs as part of a group called the "sprucers." Mike was in New York at the World Trade Center for a meeting of the Global Power Group. He worked for Marsh McLennan. We were a happy family doing our "thing" in a small town called Foxboro, M.A.
Then someoneʼs cell phone rang and my world stopped. A plane used as a bomb ﬂew into the building Mike was working in, it collapsed and with that so did my life. Over the next 10 years we had our struggles and trials and I had to pick myself up more than once. I tell my kids that everyone has their story, but it is what you do with your story that really matters. I believe that. I hope I have done a good job with mine.
I have thought back to that day and realized that what happened was that the terrorists had planned to tear our country apart. But if you look at what really happened then you will see that America came together. People rushed into buildings to save others, dug through rubble, cooked and cared for grieving families. I looked out of my front door to ﬁnd a someone mowing my law. This man, Chris Mitchell, continued to mow my lawn until the day I moved eight years later. When I asked Chris if I could pay him (more than once over eight years) his response was always the same: "Take care of your kids. This is what I do." I canʼt tell you how much of a burden that lifted from my shoulders.
A few years ago, I got involved with an organization called My Good Deed. The founders, Jay and David, created the movement for Sept. 11 to become a national day of service and remembrance. Chris is the essence of what it means to be in service of others. Long story short, Chris founded Foxboro Never Forgets and raised money for a Sept. 11 memorial in Foxboro and is the driving force behind a large-scale community service effort in Foxboro.
And so each year as I have tried to ﬁnd the "right place" to be on Sept. 11, I have tried to ﬁnd a place that will give meaning and purpose to the day -- a place where if Mike were to peek through the clouds, he would smile down upon us and be pleased at what he saw. I want him to be proud of the family we have become. I have tried lots of things. I have been to Ground Zero, the Boston Commemorations, gone away with my sons, and a few years ago -- I found the right place for me. I ﬁnd it best when I am busy in service to others with a purpose that is related to the essence of Mike. What does that mean exactly? Well, it means service to others while paying tribute to Mike.
This September the weekend will be busy for me, and that is best for me. On Saturday, September 10th I will be at Family Fun Day in Foxboro which Chris and his wife Paula have so lovingly brought back. Surrounded by the community that wrapped us in love following those tragic days after Sept. 11, we will be raising money for a scholarship in Mikeʼs name. The scholarship is for high school seniors who give back to their community in the form of service. Then I will go to the dedication of the Sept. 11 memorial in Foxboro by Chris and the folks at Foxboro Never Forgets.
On September 11th I will be on the Rose Kennedy Greenway in Boston with lots of volunteers and the Mass Military Heroes Fund (MMHF). I am a board member of the MMHF and we support families who have lost soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. The MMHF and 9/11 Families come together to sponsor this service project. We will be packing 1,000 care packages for soldiers overseas. Included in the packages will be notes of encouragement and thanks for their sacrifices and efforts. This is especially ﬁtting for me since Mike graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1981.
I always wanted to be a wife and mother. Despite the fact I was widowed at a young age and ended up a single mother, I consider myself lucky to have been married to such a wonderful and loving man. Not everyone marries or ﬁnds their soul mate. I love and miss Mike every day but you must look for the blessing in life and mine have been many -- Chris Mitchell included.
So I ask you -- this Sept. 11, what will you do to remember and pay tribute? Let me know...
Do one thing for me: Post your tributes at www.911day.org.