She’s beautiful, isn’t she? At 49 years old, Jane Orth was “sitting on top of the world.” Having just retired a month previously from her job at Lucent Technology, she decided to take a trip of a lifetime. Australia! A dream vacation — what a treat!
Weeks of excited packing were followed by hugs and kisses to her mother, Agatina, who would miss her daughter’s loving attention while she was away. Jane was traveling from Boston to Los Angeles, and then on to “The Land Down Under.” She settled into her seat for that very long flight.
In a heartbeat, her dreams were shattered. In a heartbeat, the dreams of 2974 people were shattered. The dreams of tens of thousands of their loved ones were shattered. Our dream, yours and mine, of living in a safe and secure world was reduced to rubble and ashes.
Jane’s flight, American Airlines Flight 11, was hijacked by terrorists who deliberately crashed the airplane into the North Tower of The World Trade Center.
Jane Orth was not one of the “important” people on whom the media focused in the weeks that followed 911. I never knew Jane Orth, and can only tell you the brief facts listed in her obituary. I don’t know anyone who died in the terrorist attacks. So, why am I telling you about her?
I imagine she was a woman much like me: an ordinary woman who did her work each day while planning and dreaming for “tomorrow.” That “tomorrow” never came for Jane; it was reduced to ashes because of blind hatred.
I don’t ever want to forget Jane Orth, or any of the other victims of 911. I don’t want to be filled with hatred (or fear) of the lunatics who murdered them. Hatred is what caused those deaths in the first place.
I want to remember that hatred only causes destruction and shattered dreams.
I want to remember that life is precious.
I want to remember to live my dreams with every breathe I take.
Had she lived, she would be my age today. Had she lived, Jane could have spent lazy afternoons visiting with her beloved mother, Agatina. She could have giggled with her grandchildren, Abigail and Michael. Her children Michelle, Daniel, and Elizabeth could call her on the phone to get their mother’s advice. She could see the grandchildren that have probably come along in the last seven years–the ones who will never see her sweet smile.
I’m assuming Jane smiled a lot, because her obituary said: “She will be remembered for her tremendous warm heart, outgoing personality and dedication and devotion to family and friends.”
Would that we all could be remembered so well.
Photo: The Eagle-Tribune/AP