Tell me a story, my daughter would say when I tucked her in at night. I began telling stories I had forgotten until that moment. In the telling, they became real again. I reimagined my mother’s kindness when I lost my husband, the sister who transformed words on the page, the meals of left-overs my mother brought home from Horn & Hardart we feasted on when I was a child. As I told stories, I saw them happening again and I wrote them down, scene by scene, and the stories became a memoir.
It is a story about endings, my husband’s death at the hands of terrorists who hijacked an aircraft and left behind a bomb in Grand Central Station, and the explosion that snuffed out his life at age 27, leaving me a widow with two young sons, and the story of a beautiful hijacker who gained my friendship through her letters and asked me to foster her release from prison. And, it is the story of beginnings. Of how I picked up the pieces of my life scattered by that bomb, cobbling together a future for myself and my children, and met the man who eventually renewed my faith in love. It is also the story of how I helped to turn tragedy into action as one of the founders of Survivors of the Shield, a New York City police widows organization providing social, economic, and emotional support to surviving spouses of police killed in the line of duty, and how in small ways the challenges of life bring about the greatest gifts.