(I originally posted this on 9/11/2009. I have decided that I will re-post this every year on the anniversary, just to keep the memory of this one beautiful soul alive...in my heart, in your heart. In everyone's heart who reads this.)
Here is a photo of a young woman who is now going to haunt me for the rest of my days. Her name was Eskedar Melaku. She died September 11, 2001, at the World Trade Center. She was 31 years old.
She was born in Ethiopia and emigrated to the United States, settling in New York City to attend Queens College. At the time of her death she was assistant vice president of Marsh & McLennan
Cos. Inc., a global professional services and insurance brokerage company, ranked the 5th largest US company in the diversified financial industry. I also found in researching for this blog post that the company was located on the floors directly impacted by the first jet that crashed into the North Tower. It comforts me to know that she never knew what hit her. She was a successful young business woman, but that only touches the surface of who she really was. She was described in the many tributes I've read about her by people who knew her as intelligent, beautiful, radiant, authentic, full of life. Hard working. Kind. Thoughtful. Never a bad word came from her mouth. A beautiful soul whose quiet presence is missed very much. How much she was loved by those fortunate enough to know her. How I wish I'd been one of them.
And they say that the good die young.
Like everyone else on that day, I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when the attacks on the World Trade Center were taking place. I was standing at my bedside, folding towels before leaving for work, listening to Katie Couric and Matt Lauer on the Today Show on the TV behind me, Katie making some kind of comment like, "What does this mean?" before anyone really had a clue what was going on. I happened to turn to look at the TV just as the second plane was approaching and watched in horror as it slammed into the tower. I remember the icy cold tendrils of shock radiating down my spine, just as I feel them now as I sit here writing this. I never realized how this incident, this horrendous tragedy, would change the 'safe' world we Americans had always taken for granted, how America would never be the same. I said more prayers than I can remember that day, for those who perished and the loved ones left behind. I have said many prayers for them since. None of whom I ever knew personally.
But, now I do know one of them personally. Eskedar Melaku. And I know she'll come to mind on every anniversary of 9/11. And at many other random moments, whenever I hear references to that day. I will see that beautiful smile, those warm eyes. I will remember.