The Anniversary

Prologue:

LongCreek, Sunnyvale, Tx.
1976

The Texas state fair was nearing and preparations for our participation were about to start. I was 16 back then & I worked at my fathers garage after school everyday. Our garage was the only place In the long distant neighborhood where restorations of old cars were done along with minor modifications. Dad was pretty famous for his art with automobiles back in the day, I was just a beginner who was eager to learn the trick of the trade.

We took part in the state fare regularly but this time dad wanted to use it as an medium to expand his business. The plan was good with us putting up some of our best work on view and both dad and me explaining the technical side of it, the only problem was we didn’t have a person who could multitask between keeping the accounts and managing the reception at the fair. Hence, we put up an vacancy sign up for the job as we had decided to hire someone who was good enough to do the job. That move changed my life a couple of days later, when a certain girl named Bethany Curtis walked in for the Interview.
Bethany was an instant selection, she just wasn’t good to the eye but she was way good at the work than we had expected any candidate to be. Her inclusion to our two man team was a shot in the arm. Added advantage for dad was that I had started working harder for reasons that were quite evident to me falling for Bethany (It was only ages later that I had come to know about Bethany taking up the Interview because she had liked me). I started going out with her soon, dates to the local diner and the lake had become a routine for us. Most of the guys around me were either jealous or dumbstruck thinking why a girl as beautiful as Bethany would date a guy as ugly as me? But then she never cared what others had thought, she had always been the one to follow her heart.

The fair started with a bang and we were one of the most successful business’ at the fair that year. Bethany managed to do her job better than what we had thought at first, No one left our Stall without a word of praise for dad’s works and Bethany herself. On the last day of the fair I took her to the lake, fingers entwined we spoke of an better future, of love and life. In that moment when I kissed her, I knew I had met my soul mate. I was sure it wasn’t a summer romance, It was one that would last the lifetime.

Couple of months later In early September of the year 1979, I lawfully wedded Bethany, my love, my soul mate.

The Anniversary

Manhattan NY,
9th September 2001.

I woke with a startle the clock had struck mid-night. I check if she was still asleep and quietly slid out of bed. I opened the cupboard and fetched an gift from it. It was Diamond studded bracelet which I had picked to start this day off (and a Diamond ring to go with later). As I returned, I saw her sitting upright on the bed smiling in my direction. She sure did knew me too well.

“I thought we had decided on No surprise gifts this year.” She said.

“Oh! Beth, you know me well, I just couldn’t control myself.” I replied.

“I sure do know you well Honey, So I got you something too” She said as she pulled a small wrapped box from behind her pillow and smiled at me.

It was a beautiful watch that she had gifted me, She had always know that I had a thing for watches.

“I love you and Happy Anniversary Sweetheart” I said to her and pulled her in my arms before I kissed her as passionately as I had kissed her on the lake that night when I had proposed to her 25 years ago.

At 41, both me and Beth were celebrating our 25th anniversary of a successful and romantic matrimonial alliance.
A lot had changed since we had got married. The next summer we had our first daughter Abigail and four years later our younger daughter Charity was born. Dad had passed away 7 years ago courtesy a cardiac arrest but not before he made his dreams come true. Our business had flourished from where we had started and we had expanded on national levels. We moved from Texas to New york for better prospects where we currently had our head office.
Charity was completing her college degree in Virginia so she stayed away for most part of the year while her elder sister Abigail was already betrothed to her boyfriend James and was settled with him in the London across the face of the world.

We might have been married for 25 wonderful years now but the romance still kept us young. Beth looked as beautiful as he had ever looked, no signs of aging, her beauty gave the term “Timeless beauty” a whole new definition. We sat and chatted for most of the night, revived old memories, had a good laugh before we drifted in the beauty of our romance making love just the way two lovers do for the first time. Never did I had felt for a minute in the last 25 years that our love had been lost, she was just not my wife, Beth was my best-friend, My soul-mate.

It was 6 am when I woke up, Beth had already taken her bath and was on the phone, I saw her tuck a strand of her hair behind her ears as she ended the call & though, Oh! my god she is so beautiful.

“Its a bit of a bad news honey” She said.

“What happened love? Is everything all right?” I inquired.

“Well, after Abby not getting a ticket In time for her flight here, Even Char wont be able to make it for our anniversary celebrations this year.” She sounded genuinely upset as he said that.

“I guess, Its just the old man and his wife tonight celebrating their 25th anniversary in the hut. We could do some not so old people kind of stuff, if you know what I mean” I joked with a smile and a wink.

“Its been 25 years now darling, When are you going to change? Didn’t we do some of it last night?” She sure knew how to trade rocks for bricks.

We both had a good laugh at that and moments later I still managed to drag her into the bath tub with me, accompanied by a chilled bottle of champagne. She sure did knew me as well as anyone could have known but I had some tricks up my sleeve for this special day. The kids were never gonna miss it, Both Abbey and char were in the city a couple of days ago and I had them assigned specific tasks for the big surprise.

I was going to renew my wedding vows with Beth.

The plan was simple, I was going to drive Beth to her work place and make sure she stayed there till evening, while the kids could sneak home and make the preparations for the event in the evening. Only close friends were invited and I had got professional people to decorate the house and take care of the food. Kids just had to make sure that all of that was done on time with utmost perfection. The plan was helped with the fact that Beth had an early meeting planed for that day and had to reach the office an hour before her usual time.

By 7 am we both were racing each other to getting dressed and occasionally bumping into each other for the exchange of  tender soft kisses. I saw her getting dressed and was lost into admiration of her beauty all over again. On the canvas of life, She had to be god’s very own masterpiece. Such mesmerizing was her beauty.

I was to drive her to her office which was situated in the lower Manhattan area In a constructive man made master piece, which were the tallest man made structures in the world, It had more than 100 floors to it. I remember Beth coming home and praising the view her office had of the entire Manhattan on numerous occasions from the North tower.

By 7:50 am we got into our car and drove silently for a while, listening to some of our favorite songs with her head resting on my shoulders. Perfect start to a long day I thought.
By 8:15 am we were in walkable distance of her office. I parked our car some 300 yards away from her office buildings near a local diner to have breakfast first. But she wasnt in the mood for breakfast, Instead chewing on my lower lips was chosen. I did the least to resist when she in the mood. We sat there in the car, kissing and embracing each other like young kids these days for the next 15 minutes, not caring about the world that went by. In those few minutes, My world was better than the thought of heavens.
She checked her watch at 8:30 and smile at me, I knew it was time for her to leave and I had dreaded that. I wanted to be with her as much but I guess a few moments of separation would be worth it for the wonderful evening that we were about to have later that day. We got out of the car and walked the 300 yards hand in hand like love birds until we stood just across her office gates.

“So, I guess this is it Honey” I said.

“For now, yes this is it. So what are you going to do till I get back home.” She asked with a smile.

“Oh, I am not going home sugar, I might stick around here and try to flirt with some young woman who might be working in your office, as I wait till your day ends”, I joked.

“If you fall for a woman, go after her chase her and get her. I never would want to see you sad. And seeing the one you love be happy is true love, even if its with someone else.” She said with a smile.

Know you all know why I lost my heart to this beauty, she had her way with words that would win anyone’s heart.

We both said “I love you” in unison and wished each other Happy anniversary once again by kissing there before she walked off into those towering man made masterpieces that decorated the skyline of New york city. As I saw her walk past the gate my heart skipped a beat, yet I turned around and made way to my car.
I decided to have some breakfast first so I headed into the diner. I wasn’t sure why it was called a diner even when it was packed for just a breakfast meal with no seats available. I got my breakfast packed and headed back to the car where I planed to eat it in silence.
I called up the kids to notify them that the plan was underway and they were good to enter the house now. While I was busy eating my breakfast in the car when I heard a brawl taking place just on the pavement of the street where I was parked. I was in no mindset to change my mood & let go the lingering kisses of Beth, all the romance and planning that I was about to indulge into. I just decided to turn up the volume of the songs I was listening with Beth to ear shattering levels, So I could turn myself off from the world and plan my next steps towards the evening. I somehow entered in a trance and drifted away in the past to relive some amazing memories I shared with Beth, right from the moment we met, to our first kiss, then to our marriage and to Abbey’s birth.

20 Minutes later, I heard a violent thud that brought me out of my trance, I was sure it was due to flesh hitting the metal of my car. It wouldn’t have been fatal since the car was stationery. I killed the high volume in the car as I tried to make sense of the world going haywire around me. I started to look out of the windshield when I noticed why the people were running like crazies, A huge cloud was heading my way. Some sort of natural disaster must have occurred, I decided to stay put until the calamity had calmed down.

The dust had started to settle 8 minutes later, I got out of the car to have a look around. I found I was engulf with panic and chaos as I took a look around. I spotted a young lady on the pavement who was clearly having moist eyes.

“What happened?” I asked her.

She didn’t say a word, only pointed towards the direction from which the storm had come. I turned to see clearing skies. It was that moment when it struck me, what had transpired.

The magnificent two towers that decorated New York’s skyline were gone. In that very moment my life ceased to exist.

Uncontrollable tears flowed from my eyes onto my soot laden face, I screamed the only word on top of my voice till my lungs burned “Beth”.

Epilogue:

Manhattan New York,
9/11 /2011.

It had been 10 years since that dreaded day had lived its ill fate. America had lived through the worst terrorist attacks know to man kind.
On the Morning of 9/11/2001, 19 terrorist from the terrorist group Al-Qaeda hijacked 4 passenger airplanes. The hijackers intentionally piloted two of those planes, American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175, into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center complex in New York City.

The floors where Beth had worked were the worst hit in the initial stages of the attack. No one present in the office at the time survived the attack. 295 employees and 63 contractors died in at that very moment. Beth was one of them. No remains were ever recovered, only death certificates were signed.

The Anniversary had changed its meaning. From the celebrations of a successful matrimonial alliance, that day hand become the death anniversary of my love. The world had changed from being better than heavens to worst than hell.

All that left in the rubble of life was memories, that were left behind. My world had changed yet again, Only this time for the worst. I had lost my wife, my best friend, My Soul mate. I was half dead and my other half never wanted to live after that day. But a part of me kept going, for the two lovely angels Beth had left me with. I stopped the watch that Beth had given me that night to the time when she had been robbed from my life.

In a war of worlds where hate was nurtured, Life was lost. Love was lost.

The world is a better place with love in it. Try not to hate someone, even the slightest of misunderstanding could lead to live changing events. Accept and respect choices. Live and let live. Even though Beth wont be back to me & Even though I suffered excruciating pain for something neither Beth and I did, I still would say, Kill terror and not the terrorist. World sure is a lovely place with love in it.

PS – I have to thank a few people for this blog. Firstly, I have to thank Bruce himself for letting me a window in his life & then I’d like to thank Bob & Bri for the video they have shared of the horrifying day. It was of huge help while writing this Blog.
Well, if you all want to know what happened to the others then here it is, Abigail got married to James and the lovely couple are are expecting their first child now. Charity, completed her higher studies and has launched into a successful career. As for Bruce, he met someone at ground zero couple of years ago.
Yes, Bruce has been dating Karen for the past 2 years now, even his kids have accepted her as a part of their family now. He says, “I took that last conversation with Beth seriously, There is enough love to go around for everyone. She wanted to see me happy. That what I am doing, Staying happy and In a way keeping her alive withing me.”
Bruce is not that kind of person you’d forget, I wont either.

I’d advise you all reading to make every moment count of your life if you love someone. Everyone is special for someone. Spread the word, Spread the love.