9/11 widow shares her story | VailDaily.com
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9/11 widow shares her story

Terri Schlichenmeyer

They say that every generation has their marker.

For instance, what were you doing when you heard that Pearl Harbor was bombed? Where were you when JFK was killed, or John Lennon? How about the Challenger Disaster?

Where were you when the Twin Towers fell?

Marian Fontana had just dropped her son off at kindergarten. She was looking forward to an evening anniversary celebration with her firefighter husband, Dave, when the Towers fell. In her new book, “A Widow’s Walk”, she describes that day and many others after it.

Marian Goldstein met Dave Fontana in college, and they dated for 10 years before they were married. He proposed on a snowy night beneath the shelter of pine trees, and they danced to Etta James at their wedding. When their son Aiden was born, Marian remembers how Dave would sneak into the nursery to whisper “I love you” into the newborn’s ear.

On September 11, 2001, Dave Fontana was supposed to be off work early. He was a fireman at Brooklyn’s Squad 1, and on that morning, he called his wife to tell her that he’d meet her for breakfast.

And then the first plane hit one of the towers.

The waiting started.

Dave Fontana never missed a fire, and while Marian hoped that he was safe, she knew that he wasn’t. After the towers fell and Dave was officially listed as missing, friends flocked around Marian to support her. At first, as bodies were pulled from the wreckage, everyone said that Dave and his fellow firefighters may have found a small pocket of survival and could be found alive. As time went on, it became apparent that that wasn’t going to be so.

Over the course of the next year, Marian Fontana learned to be a widow. She dealt with holidays without Dave and she learned how to tell her five-year-old son that Daddy was gone. She went to funerals and wakes and she supported other firefighter widows. And as politics began to creep more into the picture, Fontana became an activist for the memory of her husband and others who were killed.

I knew I was in trouble with this book, when I got teary-eyed on page 3. Author Marian Fontana describes the frustration and the horror of the unknown so well that, even though you know the outcome, you still hope along with her during the first chapters of this book. “A Widow’s Walk” is part memoir, part history, and a whole lot of love story but I liked Fontana’s honesty, too; she never made Dave out to be Superman. She allows her memories to include his flaws, which is hard to do when someone you love is yanked out of your life so abruptly and so violently.

If you plan on marking this anniversary, or if you remember vividly where you were on September 11, 2001, you’re going to want to read this book.

Be sure to grab a box of tissues, though. This one is a sad one.


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