Cat was watching a Linda Ellerbee Nick special. I frowned. She explained, “I want to know what happened.”
“Turn it off,” I said.
“It’s okay, it’s on Nick. There will be no upsetting images,” she said.
I left the room. A few minutes later, I heard H. tell Cat, “Turn it off. This show’s upsetting me.”
Cat turned it off and came into my room. “Why does it upset you? Do you know anyone who died?” She asked.
“I did. I knew this great, nice, fun mom. Celeste Victoria. Though sometimes I’d get her name mixed up. And I’d call her Victoria Celeste. But she’d laugh that off. She worked with me at Manhattan Neighborhood Network. She was incredibly kind to everyone. Seriously. I remember telling her that too, ‘You’re so nice to EVERYONE. To all the crazy people with cable access shows.’
“She helped me with my show. And it was just so unfair to me that someone so incredibly nice and beautiful would die. She was a single mom, about my age. Her little daughter would be with her at MNN sometimes, doing homework at the reception desk. She was such a nice little kid too. It was just crazy that her mom would die.”
Back then, I’d heard Celeste’d gotten a job in the corporate world and left MNN. And I learned Celeste was helping to staff a breakfast at Windows on the World that morning. I thought of how she must’ve found it lovely to arrange a breakfast there and probably had looked forward to it. I always loved going to Windows on the World with friends or family especially when I was in college.
All during college I worked as a front desk clerk the Vista Hotel in the World Trade Center. I walked through the concourse hundreds of times, ate my lunch in the windy, sunken courtyard between the buildings.
It’s really too much. The commemorations are everywhere you turn this week. On every newspaper cover, on every TV channel, on every announcement in the my workplace elevator, there’s some kind of ten-year anniversary reminder, prayer service, discussion group. Christ! And then there are the images — ghost-like light beams of the twin towers at night.
If I have to remember 9/11 at all this week, and apparently, I have to, I’ll remember Celeste Victoria and her smile.
I don’t want to be re-traumatized. I don’t want to return to the incredible beauty of that morning.
Maybe it’s okay, it’s raining all week. It’s fine to be depressed.
Dreary’s fine. Eventually we’ll get sunshine. We won’t get Celeste. But we can be like Celeste — hard-working mothers who are friendly to everyone, even (and especially) the crazy people.