Drawing on letters and newspaper articles, former writing instructor and political advocate Moran re-creates her personal history and the events leading up to Sept. 11, 1976, when Croatian freedom fighters launched a terrorist attack in New York City that killed her husband.
In this moving memoir, the author recalls the panic gripping her as Walter Cronkite delivered the report of a Chicago-bound flight that had been hijacked by Zvonko and Julie Busic, a Croatian man and his American wife. The lockers at Grand Central subway station had also been bombed, and Moran’s husband, Brian, a member of the NYPD bomb squad, perished when the explosive suddenly detonated. The author provides details of life growing up in the late-1960s South Bronx with seven brothers and sisters, several of whom were physically abusive or drug-addled, an abusive father, and an elusive mother who raised her children with resentment. The evolution of her seven-year romance with Brian also resonates throughout. Moran recalls meeting the recently discharged Air Force serviceman when she was 21, and she was instantly intrigued and attracted after his bold declaration that they would be married someday. The author delicately yet unreservedly explores a widow’s experience: the necessary yet near-impossible task of reconciling a senseless death to a terrorist organization, the unanswered questions and insecurity, and the crushing reality of suddenly becoming a single parent to small children. The estrangement between Moran and her drug-addicted sister Gracie added further sorrow to her life, though she achieved a measure of closure from discovering exactly how her husband died and meticulously researching the hijackers, who were members of the Fighters for Free Croatia terrorist movement. In the closing chapters, the author delivers some engaging revelations. She remarried and, unable to reconcile the details of Brian’s death, filed a lawsuit against New York for gross negligence, which was eventually dismissed. She also began correspondence with one of the hijackers, who sought atonement and a chance to “unload emotionally.”
A raw, somber emotional journey that concludes with hope and a measure of forgiveness.