My family

Some Salon readers criticized the Yaskulkas for how they were coping with the death in their family on 9/11. Louise Yaskulka's response.


One of the posters stated that we have other issues. Yes, you are right, we do. My husband has had countless surgeries, including four major back surgeries. He is unable to work due to a lot of health issues. So before 9/11 became a part of our lives, Jay had to deal with the fact that he could no longer work and that I would have to continue working. You see, he had just gotten a great position with Target and within a few years, I would have been able to quit and be a stay-at-home mom.

Brianna DOES NOT immediately tell people that her grandmother died on 9/11. Brianna is a young woman who is now forming her own opinions on worldly events. She, nonetheless, is a child and children deal with things differently than adults do. She lost her grandmother, who to her, was glamorous, sparkly and loving.

Shannon was one month shy of her 4th birthday on 9/11. My husband had just turned on the TV after the first plane hit the north tower. He was trying to comprehend what he was seeing, when the second plane hit the South Tower. That is when Shannon realized that that is where her grandmother worked.

How did she know that? My employer at the time, Salomon Smith Barney (now Citigroup) had an emergency day-care center. Because of Jay’s multiple surgeries, both of our daughters spent a lot of time there. Many mornings they took the Staten Island Ferry and then the No. 1 or 9 train into the Concourse level with me. We usually bought breakfast in the Concourse before exiting onto Vesey Street and walking the rest of the way to my office. She knew that Grandma Myrna worked upstairs. The twin towers were a physical part of their lives, not just two tall buildings in Manhattan.

In addition to being generally scared that day, as were many, many other Americans, Shannon did not know where her “mommy” was. I was unable to get home that day. Like everyone else, I could not just go home like I did every other day. I was in my SUV on Battery Place when the first building fell. I watched everything go black and then gray. I watched thousands of people walking through the streets covered with ash, bleeding and crying. I sat helplessly, paralyzed in my truck. I was too scared to get out of the truck and I knew that I was safest in there. I prayed that the planes would not keep coming and that I could get home to my children.

Then within a few months, her Uncle Joe was activated and sent to war. All this 4-year-old knew was that some bad men killed her grandmother and they might kill her uncle too. That her cousins couldn’t see their dad everyday. So between filling out paperwork for the government and sending care packages to Iraq, her parents were pretty busy.

I experienced the 1993 bombing. I worked at 7 World Trade then. I walked down 37 flights of stairs after just returning to work from maternity leave. I was scared out of my mind then and when I saw the devastation on 9/11 I was scared then too. It was history repeating itself on a much grander scale. I admire everyone who is a 9/11 survivor. Some of them were hurt very badly and they fought to get out. I don’t know if I could have done that.

So judge us if you will. The story that Lori wrote scratched the surface of our lives. She wrote a story based on how we are doing today and how we are dealing with losing someone on 9/11. She did not write a story in which we are looking for sympathy, because we are not looking for that. I stood at ground zero yesterday and I listened to people read names. I listened as they said a tribute to their loves ones. Some of them lost their children AND their spouse; other relatives AND their spouse. I felt for them. I can’t imagine the pain they felt then and feel now.

Bandwagoning was never on our agenda. We want the news stories about 9/11 to stop. No more movies about that day. We all know what happened that day. We don’t need to see a movie about it. None of us do.

People die every day. We know that. I lost my father in September 2004. He was ill with lung cancer. He was doing well and then took a turn for the worse. My daughters are not over his death either. He was a MAJOR part of their young lives. The difference is that his death and the circumstances around it are not part of everyday conversation in the media or at school.

This does not make his death any less important. It is just not shoved into our faces most days.

Death is a natural part of life, my girls know this.

I want everyone to know that whenever someone dies, it is felt by their loved ones forever. It never goes away. Time does not heal all wounds, it just helps distract you from missing someone as much as you did the day they passed away.

With 9/11, time has not lessened the blow because it is a part of American History and it will be repeated in the media over and over. As a family, we are dealing with the whole situation as best as we can. If you don’t agree with how we are doing that, well, that’s your right.

We were not asked by to be the “Poster Family” for 9/11. We were asked how we are doing 5 years later. We are doing the best we can.

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