I became a single parent when my boyfriend and I got pregnant and he left. My friend, M, became a single parent when her husband cheated on her, stopped paying the mortgage and bailed on everything family. Matt Logelin became a single parent when his wife, Liz, died 27 hours after giving birth to their daughter, Maddy. I have a single dad friend in New York City who takes care of his son, because Mom left and I personally know at least three choice moms who used donor sperm. Then there are the single parents who began their journey on 9/11.
These are women and men who kissed their spouses goodbye for the last time. Men who cupped pregnant bellies and headed out the door not knowing they’d never get a chance to meet their babies. Kids sat by phones with relatives and waited for calls that would never come.
These are kids like 12 year-old, Timmy who Jenna Bush Hager interviewed at America's Camp, a free camp for those that lost parents on 9/11, that began ten years ago, in the wake of that tragedy. The camp will close its doors this year.
Timmy’s dad was Sergeant Timothy Roy and like many fathers, opted to take the day off so he could pick his son up from his first day of pre-school. Timmy doesn’t remember, but his dad never made it to him. On the morning of 9/11, Sergeant Roy saw the first plane crash into the building. He called his wife of sixteen years and said he wouldn’t be able to pick up Timmy and expected to be home late. He was killed in his attempt to rescue others trapped inside the World Trade Center.
His wife was now a single mother to three children, Timmy and his two sisters. I tried to put myself in Sergeant Roy’s wife’s shoes and I couldn’t go there. My journey as a single mom certainly came as a shock to the system, but there was no death—there was only birth. The birth of sweet JD and the rebirth of me. I was scared at times, but that fear was always silver-lined with joy and hope—and this is something I do think I share with 9/11 single parents. Hope and joy, something that pushes us all forward, something heard in the laughter of our children and in the rainbow doodles of their artwork. It is their innocence and youth that keeps us single parents going—that forces us to be strong, brave, good, better, even better. To fall down, knowing we must pick ourselves up, because no one else is going to, or step in at bath-time, bedtime, every, single time. We are single parents that are depended on in a way, only single parents know. Some of us wonder how we got here, this journey known as single parenthood and some of us can pinpoint the decision, the day, the death of a spouse—one fact is clear—we’re a team, a family, a special club.
My heart goes out to the single parents of 9/11 and their children. I get it, even though I was a junior in college in Philly when it happened. I hadn’t met JD’s dad…I hadn’t even started dating my college boyfriend. I was just a girl going to Uarts.edu dreaming about becoming a writer (and now my bio and book are in the University's main brochure and help sell students to enroll) and traveling the world…now a single mom in NJ, still dreaming...as much as ever, honestly. 9/11 NEVER FORGET. Read about my 9/11 here.
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