Like everyone else in the United States, I remember exactly where I was on the morning of September 11, 2001.

Luckily, I was home with my two daughters who were 2 1/2 years and 7 months old at the time. We were downstairs watching cartoons.

My husband, who was home safe and sound getting ready for work, called to me to put on the news. I tried to change the channel, but my 2 1/2 year old wouldn’t hear of it. I left it alone. What could be so important anyway? I was happily living the charmed life of a stay-at-home mom with two adorable little girls and a fantastic husband. All was right with the world.

All was not right with the world at all. When my husband once again screamed for me to turn on the news, I left my daughter on the couch watching “Calliou” and joined my husband just in time to see the second plane hit the tower.

Was this real? Was this really happening? Six years earlier I had moved out of New York City to suburban New Jersey. Now, the beautiful city I loved looked like a war zone and so many lost their lives.

We were lucky that none of our family or friends were directly affected by this horrific event but, just like the rest of the country, the events of that day would stay with us forever.

Ten years later, when life still seemed to be going so well for my family, we suffered our own tragedy when my beloved husband had a heart attack and passed away in the blink of an eye.

I had such great support from my family and friends, but one of the most meaningful emails I received was from a perfect stranger.

She was a woman who lived close to me. I had never met her and did not know her story, but she heard what happened to my husband. She was a 9/11 widow. Her email was short and sweet. It said how she knew what I was going through, what pain I was in, how I must be so worried about my children. She promised it would get better, but not for a while. She asked if I would like to meet to talk.

At that time I was not ready; it was too soon. A few months later, I remembered her email and reached out to her. We did meet for lunch and told each other our stories. She was doing so well, I didn’t think I would ever get to the place where she was. She told me I would.

It is almost seven years later and, while our stories and paths are different, I did eventually get to that good place just like she said I would.

I am not a 9/11 widow, but I am a widow who was helped by one. She took her own tragedy and turned it into something good by reaching out to help someone else. It is women like her who inspired me to start The Widow Wears Pink. I believe in paying it forward.

I will be thinking of my new friend and the others on this day which I know is beyond difficult, no matter how well they are doing. I hope she knows what a gift she gave me.

 

 

Stacy was a stay-at-home mom/part-time preschool teacher whose life was turned upside down in 2011 when her husband tragically passed away. After a few very difficult years, she started The Widow Wears Pink, a blog about her widow life.

Stacy has been published in Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, Her View From Home, Better After 50, Modern Loss, Grown & Flown,, Option B, Kveller, Mamalode, Sammiches & Psychmeds, and Thought Catalog. She is a contributor on Hope for Widows Foundation and freelances for Today.com. She is currently working on both her memoir and a fiction novel.