Four 9/11 widows’ jointly written account of life after the Twin Towers fell.
They didn’t know each other five years ago, but following 9/11, Carrington, Collins, Gerbasi and Haynes formed the Widows’ Club. Here they pay homage to their dead husbands, recounting the harrowing hours of Sept. 11 and describing the process of adjusting to life alone. Gerbasi’s account of the actual day is especially heartrending; she vividly recreates the horrifying feeling of not knowing whether her beloved was dead or alive, of the slowly dawning realization that he might not come home. The four women became closer than sisters: They hung out all the time, took trips together—in fact, spent so much time with each other that their relatives began to get sick of hearing about their fellow widows. “This was a club that none of us wanted to be members of,” they write, but the comfort of being with other women who completely understood their grief, their guilt and their fear was invaluable. In this communal recollection, they discuss the stresses of single parenting and the pressure to be the perfect 9/11 widow: “She protests. She appears in front of Congress. She organizes. We’d managed none of this.” The dramas of beginning to date provide some comic relief, as do the lists of stupid, if well-intentioned, things people say. The most stunning gaffe came from a therapist who, 30 minutes into an intake interview, told Gerbasi that she needed to get on with her life. Sometimes one of the four women narrates in the first person, while at other points, the first-person-plural takes over, as in their final conclusion that “by writing all this down, we’ve been able to see in black and white just how far we’ve come and how much we’ve helped one another.” This shifting point-of-view can be disorienting, but the prose, both individual and collective, is surprisingly strong.
Respectful and serious yet fun, moving but rarely maudlin.