Vanessa's Hands

Four days ago a ceramic angel that had been placed on a desk in my family room dropped suddenly and it broke from its base, the wings went in two directions. Superstitious always, but more since 9/11, I joked that Vanessa had lost her wings. What was going on in heaven?

On 9/11/2001 Vanessa went to work early, dressed in a black Banana Republic skirt and blouse, asking her husband Timmy if she looked okay before she left. She was four or five months pregnant, feuding with most of us in the family, most importantly her brother James who was 14 at the time -- her best friend on earth. She and James really only had one fight. On 9/10/2001 he blocked her from his IM and told her to "just chill."

How many times have I written about her final moments since 9/11? What could we have done or said to turn this back, to make her live? This, the only thing in my life I could not fix.

Sunday night, James is at a bar. Jackson, her younger brother is getting ready for bed. Her step father is transfixed, waiting for President Obama to talk about the significance of the US in possession of the body of the demon. They are sure. They checked his DNA.

We all wonder, what will it mean? Will we get our sense of safety back? Will we get our nation back? Our civil liberties? Our collective appreciation for freedom? We Americans love one another again or will we continue to rip ourselves in two for allegiance to party?

For ten years I blamed many for Vanessa's death and more for what they did after to make the world more hateful, more violent. But I never knew how much was tied up in the metaphoric bin Laden. And I don't know exactly now why I am crying.

Only now, as I think back to the day the ceramic angel broke and Vanessa's Golden Retriever Skye, now my dog, looked strangely at a point on a far wall and whimpered, and I thought, what does Skye see? Why is she staring so intently?

I wonder, does my fierce baby girl, with the fiery hair and eyes, the one who, slight and fragile as she looked, could turn men to toast with a glance, I wonder, is he, bin Laden, in her hands?

Today, two things are clear: In our house we don't, under any circumstances, celebrate death. Osama is dead; except in our memories, Vanessa is not alive.