towers were a very special place for my wife and I. In October of 2000 we were married at Windows on the World. All of our dealings with the restaurant were managed through their event planner, Jackie. Soon after the September tragedy we found confirmation via a web site called "Windows of Hope" that she was not at work that morning. They listed her as a survivor. We were told that every Windows employee at work that morning perished. On the very top floor of the first tower hit, they didn't stand a chance. We thought about all those people, most of whom worked behind the scenes, that made our magnificent wedding possible. How many were at work that morning? Most of them we never even met.
A year after this website was launched we learned that Jackie's status as a survivor had initially been incorrectly stated and, unbeknownst to us, her status had later been changed to victim. For a whole year we were unaware of this information. We have also recently learned of a charitable organization set up in her honor called The Jackie Sayegh Duggan Charitable Fund, which we will post more information about as soon as we learn more.
We never thought we could have afforded the World Trade Center. We saw Windows on the World listed for events in the Zagat guide and, almost on a fluke, decided it would be fun to go see the space. While it wasn't the least expensive we'd seen, we were amazed that their smallest room was actually less money than a couple of other options we had considered... and their smallest room wasn't exactly all that small.
Our space was the Liberty Room, so named because it looked out over New York Harbor and the Statue of Liberty. There was another room at the opposite side of the building named the Pinnacle Suite. This was a stunning ballroom than spanned half the width of the North-facing wall with sweeping panoramas over all of Manhattan. This room was way out of our budget. On the West wall between these two rooms was the Hudson Room, named for the river down below. As we booked our space nearly ten months in advance, the Pinnacle Suite had not yet been reserved for that night. Jackie gave us the Hudson room for free to use for our cocktail hour. This would give the staff time to change out the Liberty Room from chapel to dining room. We would then go back to the Liberty Room for the reception. We received a phone call from Jackie the week before the wedding. The Pinnacle Suite had still not been booked for our night. All reservations were required at least ten days in advance. For the price of the smallest room in the place she gave us the entirety of the rental space on the top floor of the World Trade Center!
Due to the generosity of my wife's family and, in no small measure, the outstanding professionalism of the Windows on the World staff, our wedding was magnificent beyond any expectation.
I have never dined at Windows on the World. In fact, I have never once stepped foot in the restaurant. The part of the floor that was rented out for events shared only the common elevator bay with the restaurant. On all the occasions that we went to the space during the course of planning our wedding it never occurred to me to go over and have a look. As part of our wedding package, Jackie gave us a free dinner at Windows on the World to be redeemable on our first anniversary. That would have been October 1, 2001. We made the reservations for our anniversary dinner just a week before the tragedy.
Our loss is irrelevant.
But it has been heartbreaking to us, none the less. What was once a sacred place to my wife and I, is now a sacred place to many thousands of other people for entirely different reasons.
The events of September 11th touched the lives of so many people all over the world. This has been the story of how it touched mine. Everyone has to find their own way of healing. I have no idea what will come of this place, and many interests more powerful than mine will eventually make that decision. In a way, this web site is a documentation of my own healing process.
Now when I look up and see the empty place where those buildings once stood I don't have to feel the pain of the loss, the guilt for the shallowness of my loss compared to the much greater loss of others and the confusion over this contradiction. Now when I look up at that place I can think to myself, "My wife and I were married, right up there in the clouds."