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Remembering September 11

One decade after the attacks of September 11, 2001, 10 people pay tribute to loved ones lost and share the unique, enduring ways in which they celebrate their lives.

Ann DouglasGareth McConnell

“I Take a Moment to Sit on the Bench Dedicated to My Husband.”

Dorry Tompsett | 57 | Garden City, New York
Her husband, Stephen Tompsett, 39, a senior vice president at the brokerage firm Instinet, was attending the Risk Waters Group’s financial-technology conference at Windows on the World when the plane struck Tower One.

See a photo of Dorry.

The loss was everywhere on September 11. My church lost 14 parishioners. My town, Garden City, lost 23 people. Some people received remains of their loved ones, but my daughter, Emily (now 19, pictured here), and I did not. My husband’s plot is still empty. I had nothing to bury.

Still, it was important that Emily and I had a place to go to remember Stephen. In 2002 I purchased a bench on the village green in his honor. Another widow and a couple I knew from church who lost their son did the same thing. Those three memorial benches are clustered in that park, not far from the 9/11 memorial erected by the town.

My daughter was 9 when her dad died, and for years she would decorate the bench. She would leave a basket of goodies at Easter, for example. Now that she’s older, we come by on September 11 and other important dates (Thanksgiving, Christmas, Father’s Day, and Stephen’s birthday), place flowers on the bench, and just sit beside them.

I keep my husband’s spirit alive in other ways as well. I established the Stephen K. Tompsett Memorial Fund for Technology in Education (stevetompsettmemorialfund.org) to support schools and young adults in the fields of math, science, and technology—Stephen’s passions. He would be elated that Emily is studying math and computer science and plans to become a math teacher. She looks so much like him: the same dimple on her chin, the same dark hair. And because we spend time talking about what a great man her dad was—not the horrible way we lost him—she feels she really knows him.

 
Read More About:Inspiration & Motivation

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