Sunday, December 11, 2011

Where You Left Me

Around the tenth anniversary of 9/11, there were many books published about the tragedy. Just as I gravitated toward Let's Roll by Lisa Beamer and Lyz Glick's memoir (both by women widowed with children by this event), I have found myself reading accounts of how women who lost their husbands coped and moved on. Although I haven't been through the loss of a spouse, I, like many can easily put ourselves in the position these women were in, and while unable to truly understand their experience, can see a bit of ourselves in their story.

Where You Left Me by Jennifer Gardner Trulson is Trulson's nearly fairy-tale like love story - her courtship and marriage to Doug Gardner, and the beginning of their life together as their son Michael, and then daughter Julia are born. Gardner was a successful businessman, Howard Lutnick's second-in-charge at Cantor Fitzgerald, the company that lost 658 employees on 9/11 (the most of any company that day). I fell in love with Gardner myself and can only imagine Trulson's devastation as the life she and her husband worked to build was destroyed.

Although I feel that Trulson accurately writes of her grief and various events she endured as a way of getting through each day, I am still unable to believe that I can even imagine the pain and sorrow each moment brought. And yet, as Trulson explains, although she will never get over her loss, she shows how she has managed to go on and find things to be hopeful about and experience happiness again.

It is no secret that Trulson is remarried - her name on the book cover is evidence that life has moved on. Even as Trulson is grieving her loss, she manages to find and begin dating Derek Trulson, a West Coast transplant and confirmed bachelor. Trulson's patience and ability to remain steady, helping Jennifer cope with the many changes in her life, made him seem like a modern-day Prince Charming. Although Trulson would never have chosen to experience the loss of her husband, her second marriage seems every bit as magical as her first.

Trulson's life is a far cry from my rural midwestern existence. Money appears to be no object, and dinners out and expensive restaurants, private schools, and a summer home are things that are the norm in her world. And yet, despite all these differences, I enjoyed Trulson's voice and could understand and appreciate the feelings she experienced. From time to time I could feel myself nodding while reading, identifying with Trulson's latest example of how she was struggling.

Where You Left Me reminded me yet again of how many people were touched in our nation by the events of 9/11. Trulson's memoir brings a voice to the widows from Cantor Fitzgerald and shares what the the loss of Douglas B. Gardner meant to those who loved him the most.

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