• Judy Cohen

September 11, 1983 – A Parallel Moment in My Personal History

The other night I was watching a special on the 9/11 terrorist attacks. This particular documentary was told from the perspective of some of the survivors from the South Tower of the World Trade Center, and from news correspondents and cameramen who were desperately trying to report what they were seeing on the ground, even though they had no idea what was happening. It really brought me back to that horrible time in history. It also got me thinking about how we often chronicle our lives by events and milestones, both personal and historical, and whether these moments are happy or tragic, we somehow remember exactly where we were and what we were doing when it happened.

Everyone has their own story from September 11, 2001 whether they were in New York City, Washington, D.C. or simply at work. Like previous generations knowing exactly where they were the day President Kennedy was assassinated or when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, we all remember the moment those planes hit the towers. Many of us were actually watching it live on T.V. The world seems to stop when tragedy hits and for whatever reason, we always remember the moment — even when it occurred many years ago.

A Parallel Moment in My Personal History

My beautiful sister, Celia

My beautiful sister, Celia


For me, September 11th has always been a crappy day and one I experience with a heavy heart. Thirty years ago, September 11, 1983, is the day I said good-bye to my sister, Celia. Thirty years ago? It doesn’t seem real or possible. Am I really that old? I still remember every detail of the day she passed away (September 10th) from how the day started, my father’s breakdown, the nurse trying to sedate me, my uncle yelling that he didn’t believe me, the endless phone calls, hiding in my room, going to the airport to pick up relatives, non-stop food deliveries to the house — and never shedding a tear. In the Jewish religion, when possible, you conduct the burial within 24 hours so her funeral was the next day — September 11th.

My whole world stopped that day and I couldn’t understand how people were going about their business as if this horrible tragedy never happened. Of course, it only happened to my family and me and this was our sorrow, not the worlds. But indeed, life did go on — that day — and it has for 30 years.

I spent many days after my sister’s passing asking why her and why not me? I never found the answer, and once I realized it was because the question can never be answered, I just started living my life. Full disclosure — it took me a long time and a lot of therapy to come to this realization! Unlike the 9/11 victims’ family and friends, I was able to say good-bye to my sister because I knew her ultimate fate. I will forever be grateful for that opportunity. I made a promise to her that no matter what I would go on living my life like I always had (maybe with a little less reckless behavior!) for her sake, and mine. I’d say I fulfilled my promise as in the past 30 years I’ve hopefully made my parents proud, created lasting friendships, traveled the country and parts of the world, enjoyed a successful career, married a wonderful man and had an incredible son. And I’m not done yet!

Judy-isms September 11

Posing with my beautiful sister


It’s been more than a decade now since our country was attacked, but it’s still so fresh, and for many living in New York City and Washington, D.C., it’s still very raw.  It’s been 30 years since I lost my sister and in some respects, it’s as fresh and raw as if it happened yesterday. I once had a friend ask me, when her father was dying, if I ever got over losing my sister. My response was simple, “I’ll get back to you.” You never get “over it,” but you do keep going — because life goes on.

To my loving sister, Celia (and all the victims of September 11, 2001) — I’ll keep on living for your memory and you’ll always be in my heart!

#September11th #Sisters

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