I could not bear to write this a week ago even though my mind thought of her so often that day, hot tears prickling behind my eyes. A classmate of mine from college was killed in the attack on the World Trade Tower. I knew her as an acquaintance. At first I could not place her name when my coworker was talking to me about the article in our local paper. When I saw her picture on the computer screen smiling back at me, I gasped. I worked in food service at my college, and it was a relatively small campus. I did not know people’s last names. I knew mostly faces and first names. In my small college campus and in our classrooms, our Communications professors addressed us all by first names only. It was a way of establishing trust, rapport and community. Our entire graduating class was stunned. How could one of our own be gone so soon? It was unspeakable. I realized immediately who her fiance was, and my heart ached. He was and still is a great guy. He was friendly to everyone in our class, always ready with a smile and a joke. She was friendly and kind.
I think her death touched me so much because our lives paralleled each other. I was newly engaged barely a month at the time of 9/11; she was also newly engaged. We were both Communication majors. So I grieved for her, for her family and for her fiance, another classmate of mine. I grieved for myself and yet another loss of my innocence.
I am choosing to remember that people can touch our lives and make a difference. I choose to remember that our class banded together and created a scholarship in her name. I choose to remember how we were all a little kinder to each other those days after 9/11. I hope for a return to a kinder, gentler nation where we recognize that we are all human, flawed and imperfect.