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.

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Beautiful Darkness by Fabien Vehlmann & Kerascoët
    Kerascoët's lovely, delicate pen-and-watercolor art -- all intricate botanicals, big eyes and flowing hair -- gives this fairy story a deceptively pretty finish. You find out quickly, however, that these are the heartless and heedless fairies of folk legend, not the sentimental sprites beloved by the Victorians and Disney fans. A host of tiny hominid creatures must learn to survive in the forest after fleeing their former home -- a little girl who lies dead in the woods. The main character, Aurora, tries to organize the group into a community, but most of her cohort is too capricious, lazy and selfish to participate for long. There's no real moral to this story, which is refreshing in itself, beyond the perpetual lessons that life is hard and you have to be careful whom you trust. Never has ugly truth been given a prettier face.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Climate Changed: A Personal Journey Through the Science by Philippe Squarzoni
    Squarzoni is a French cartoonist who makes nonfiction graphic novels about contemporary issues and politics. While finishing up a book about France under Jacques Chirac, he realized that when it came to environmental policy, he didn't know what he was talking about. "Climate Changed" is the result of his efforts to understand what has been happening to the planet, a striking combination of memoir and data that ruminates on a notoriously elusive, difficult and even imponderable subject. Panels of talking heads dispensing information (or Squarzoni discussing the issues with his partner) are juxtaposed with detailed and meticulous yet lyrical scenes from the author's childhood, the countryside where he takes a holiday and a visit to New York. He uses his own unreachable past as a way to grasp the imminent transformation of the Earth. The result is both enlightening and unexpectedly moving.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Here by Richard McGuire
    A six-page version of this innovative work by a regular contributor to the New Yorker first appeared in RAW magazine 25 years ago. Each two-page spread depicts a single place, sometimes occupied by a corner of a room, over the course of 4 billion years. The oldest image is a blur of pink and purple gases; others depict hazmat-suited explorers from 300 years in the future. Inset images show the changing decor and inhabitants of the house throughout its existence: family photos, quarrels, kids in Halloween costumes, a woman reading a book, a cat walking across the floor. The cumulative effect is serene and ravishing, an intimation of the immensity of time and the wonder embodied in the humblest things.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Kill My Mother by Jules Feiffer
    The legendary Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist delivers his debut graphic novel at 85, a deliriously over-the-top blend of classic movie noir and melodrama that roams from chiaroscuro Bay City to Hollywood to a USO gig in the Pacific theater of World War II. There's a burnt-out drunk of a private eye, but the story is soon commandeered by a multigenerational collection of ferocious women, including a mysterious chanteuse who never speaks, a radio comedy writer who makes a childhood friend the butt of a hit series and a ruthless dame intent on making her whiny coward of a husband into a star. There are disguises, musical numbers and plenty of gunfights, but the drawing is the main attraction. Nobody convey's bodies in motion more thrillingly than Feiffer, whether they're dancing, running or duking it out. The kid has promise.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    The Motherless Oven by Rob Davis
    This is a weird one, but in the nervy surreal way that word-playful novels like "A Clockwork Orange" or "Ulysses" are weird. The main character, a teenage schoolboy named Scarper Lee, lives in a world where it rains knives and people make their own parents, contraptions that can be anything from a tiny figurine stashable in a pocket to biomorphic boiler-like entities that seem to have escaped from Dr. Seuss' nightmares. Their homes are crammed with gadgets they call gods and instead of TV they watch a hulu-hoop-size wheel of repeating images that changes with the day of the week. They also know their own "death day," and Scarper's is coming up fast. Maybe that's why he runs off with the new girl at school, a real troublemaker, and the obscurely dysfunctional Castro, whose mother is a cageful of talking parakeets. A solid towline of teenage angst holds this manically inventive vision together, and proves that some graphic novels can rival the text-only kind at their own game.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    NOBROW 9: It's Oh So Quiet
    For each issue, the anthology magazine put out by this adventurous U.K.-based publisher of independent graphic design, illustration and comics gives 45 artists a four-color palette and a theme. In the ninth issue, the theme is silence, and the results are magnificent and full of surprises. The comics, each told in images only, range from atmospheric to trippy to jokey to melancholy to epic to creepy. But the two-page illustrations are even more powerful, even if it's not always easy to see how they pertain to the overall concept of silence. Well, except perhaps for the fact that so many of them left me utterly dumbstruck with visual delight.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Over Easy by Mimi Pond
    When Pond was a broke art student in the 1970s, she took a job at a neighborhood breakfast spot in Oakland, a place with good food, splendid coffee and an endlessly entertaining crew of short-order cooks, waitresses, dishwashers and regular customers. This graphic memoir, influenced by the work of Pond's friend, Alison Bechdel, captures the funky ethos of the time, when hippies, punks and disco aficionados mingled in a Bay Area at the height of its eccentricity. The staff of the Imperial Cafe were forever swapping wisecracks and hopping in and out of each other's beds, which makes them more or less like every restaurant team in history. There's an intoxicating esprit de corps to a well-run everyday joint like the Imperial Cafe, and never has the delight in being part of it been more winningly portrayed.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew
    You don't have to be a superhero fan to be utterly charmed by Yang and Liew's revival of a little-known character created in the 1940s by the cartoonist Chu Hing. This version of the Green Turtle, however, is rich in characterization, comedy and luscious period detail from the Chinatown of "San Incendio" (a ringer for San Francisco). Hank, son of a mild-mannered grocer, would like to follow in his father's footsteps, but his restless mother (the book's best character and drawn with masterful nuance by Liew) has other ideas after her thrilling encounter with a superhero. Yang's story effortlessly folds pathos into humor without stooping to either slapstick or cheap "darkness." This is that rare tribute that far surpasses the thing it celebrates.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Shoplifter by Michael Cho
    Corinna Park, former English major, works, unhappily, in a Toronto advertising agency. When the dissatisfaction of the past five years begins to oppress her, she lets off steam by pilfering magazines from a local convenience store. Cho's moody character study is as much about city life as it is about Corinna. He depicts her falling asleep in front of the TV in her condo, brooding on the subway, roaming the crowded streets after a budding romance goes awry. Like a great short story, this is a simple tale of a young woman figuring out how to get her life back, but if feels as if it contains so much of contemporary existence -- its comforts, its loneliness, its self-deceptions -- suspended in wintery amber.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
    This collection of archetypal horror, fairy and ghost stories, all about young girls, comes lushly decked in Carroll's inky black, snowy white and blood-scarlet art. A young bride hears her predecessor's bones singing from under the floorboards, two friends make the mistake of pretending to summon the spirits of the dead, a family of orphaned siblings disappears one by one into the winter nights. Carroll's color-saturated images can be jagged, ornate and gruesome, but she also knows how to chill with absence, shadows and a single staring eye. Literary readers who cherish the work of Kelly Link or the late Angela Carter's collection, "The Bloody Chamber," will adore the violent beauty on these pages.

  • Recent Slide Shows



Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>