When My Husband Died On Sept. 11, I Found My Voice. And I Learned To Listen

The author and her late husband, David Retik, who died in the attacks of 9/11, and their two young children. (Courtesy Susan Retik)

Twenty years ago, my husband David was killed on 9/11. He was on American Airlines Flight 11, the first flight to hit the World Trade Center. At the time, we had two young children and I was pregnant with our third child. Dave and I were college sweethearts — madly in love — and we thought we had our whole lives ahead of us. The loss was devastating.

I was 33 years old when tragedy struck. To get through that time, I relied on friends and family and, perhaps unconsciously, I leaned into the doing of life — by keeping myself remarkably busy.

Our daughter was born in November, my sister and I wrote a children’s book in December, I got a puppy in January. And then, at some point in the winter of 2002, I decided that in June, I would hold the first annual “Dave Retik Father’s Day Fun Run.”

I had never even been to a “fun run” before, but I had it in my head that Father’s Day was going to be particularly difficult for our kids. I wanted to do something positive and honor Dave in the midst of all that grief. So, I sat down and made a list of who might attend — it came to about 50 names. Fast forward to the third Sunday in June; I stood in a mass of more than 1,000 people.

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