A beautiful book review by my dear friend…
As we commemorate the 10th anniversary of 9/11, I think everyone remembers where they were and what they were doing on that fateful day that a horrendous terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York City took almost 3,000 lives. Although the world was shocked, not everyone was affected as deeply as the families of the people who were killed in that deadly attack.
Where You Left Me a memoir by Jennifer Gardner Trulson is a heartbreakingly poignant memoir of Jennifer’s life with her loving husband Doug who was on the 105th floor of the North Tower of the World Trade Center during the attack.
Doug and Jennifer lived a seemingly charmed life. They had the kind of marriage that most people only dream about. When Jennifer described their relationship to people she would say, “It’s like breathing.” They had two beautiful children. However, when Doug died, that wonderful life came crashing down and Jennifer and the children were suddenly bereft of Doug’s loving presence. This obviously left a gaping hole in all of their lives. Of that time of loss and confusion, Jennifer describes her life in the following way:
“I am Jennifer Gardner, Doug Gardner’s wife. I was Doug Gardner’s wife. I’m still his wife, but he’s dead. I’m single but I’m married. I’m married, but I have no husband. Doug was my husband but now he’s gone. I’m a widow. What is that?” The author makes us feel with her this terrible state of transition of which there can really be no solution. She goes on to say, “From now on my life would be demarcated with a Before and After, every memory tagged with one of these distinct labels.” She tells us in a very descriptive and detailed way how losing her husband influenced every facet of her life.
In this memoir, the author is very determined that people know her husband. She wants us to know the caring, consequential individual that he was. She does not want him to be known only as a statistic that died in 9/11. Knowing that a lot of people died that day and that other people’s losses were as tragic as hers, she still had to explain:
“But Doug was my loss; my unimaginable emptiness….This is who Doug was. He was more than you knew.”
“Time heals all wounds.” This story is one of resiliency, of the human spirit to survive and triumph over tragedy. Jennifer felt very blessed to have found the love of her life in Doug. Imagine how shocked she was when in a surprising twist of fate she finds love again. In the dedication at the front of the book, we read, “For Derek who gave me a second chance to fall in love for the first time.”
As I read this book, I laughed, I cried and I was reminded of how fragile life is but yet how exciting it can be and that we should live it to the fullest with no regrets. I appreciate Mrs. Trulson for sharing her story. She is the voice of every person who had a beloved family member who died in 9/11. Each person had a story and they will not be forgotten.
engelman and co. provided a review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.
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