A Year Without Jeff

I began keeping a journal on September 11, at around 10:30 a.m. I was writing to my husband, Jeffrey R. Smith, 36, an equity research analyst for the investment banking firm Sandler O'Neill and Partners, on the 104th floor of 2 World Trade Center.
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After I spoke by phone with Jeff the second time that morning, at about 9 a.m., I turned on the TV at his suggestion. I dropped to my knees and cried out loud when I saw his tower get hit. I turned off the TV and began to pray and pace until a friend came over to take our daughters -- Margaret, now 3, and Charlotte, 22 months -- for a walk. That's when I started writing.

I could at that moment only focus on my husband, the man I'd met while scuba diving in the Caribbean in 1992. Although he lived in Florida at the time and I in New York City, we stayed in touch. When Jeff came to New York on business in May 1995, we had dinner. We planned a dive vacation together for the next month, and we saw each other every other weekend after that trip. We traveled to France the following October, and in April, Jeff moved into my apartment. We were married on April 5, 1997.

And now I was writing ... trying to hold on to our life together. Trying to hold on. Re-reading passages from my journal, I can see that I have journeyed through months of disbelief, struggling to accept what happened to my family.

September 11, 2001. Jeff -- you are everything to me. I am praying for you ... the girls need you. They love you. I am looking at all our pictures. Pictures of you and me scuba diving, pictures of the four of us on vacation in the Garfagnana Mountains [in Italy]. Oh, Jeff, we have such living to do. Please honey, be okay. Please.

September 13, 2001. My parents have come to stay with us at our apartment on Manhattan's east side. Jeff's parents have been phoning constantly to see how we're all doing. His brother, Jerry, and his wife were out all night again looking for Jeff. They put up posters, called hospitals, and walked and walked. They said it's a ghost town out there -- New York City has halted. I do not leave the apartment. I want to be here when Jeff calls.

Continued on page 2:  Coming to Terms


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