As we flew home, I told the girls Eddie had called to tell me they’d found tools indicating where firefighters from Squad 41 had been working.
I didn’t mention that Bruce’s body had also been found.
When we got home, the answering machine was blinking.
I listened to the first message, which was from Bruce’s cousin asking about funeral details. The second message was from a friend stating he was available to be a pallbearer.
How does everyone know?
What is happening?
The last message was from Charlie, asking me to contact him when I had a minute. I called him and left a message.
Easter Sunday morning Charlie called back.
“The DNA results came back. They have officially identified Bruce’s body. Can someone come to your house Monday evening to give you the official notification?”
“That’s not necessary. I work on Mondays.”
“Just tell me what time is good for you.”
Truth is, while I was grateful they had found Bruce’s body, I also felt angry and frustrated. The results were supposed to have taken weeks, not days—and word had gotten out before I’d been able to prepare Emily and Meghan, or even tell any family members or close friends.
Now my hand had been forced. I had to tell my girls that their daddy’s body had been found and identified.
And on Easter morning, no less.
To be honest we never thought there would be a body. How could I tell them there was indeed a body—on a day when we were celebrating the absence of a body? Not Bruce’s, of course, but Christ’s. It took years for me to fully grasp the implications of the timing. Eventually I came to see it as beautiful. You see, whether Bruce’s body was found or not, my hope was built on the story of Jesus’ resurrection.
On that Sunday, before heading to my folks’ house for Easter dinner, I told Emily and Meghan I had something important to share with them.
We sat around the kitchen table.
“Just before we left for France,” I said, “Charlie called and told me they thought they had found Daddy’s body.” I paused. “Charlie also said it could take six weeks to identify him so that’s why I didn’t say anything. But now they have identified him.”
My daughters sat in stunned silence.
“The FDNY will come tomorrow evening,” I added, “to give us the official notification, but some way or the other the news has gotten out. Some people already know.”
“Wow. I didn’t think they would find his body,” Emily said. “But at least now I don’t have to wonder if Daddy is wandering around with amnesia.”
I never knew she was thinking that.
Meghan added, “I’ve had no control in any of this—but telling my friends his body was found was something I should’ve had some control over. Not anyone else.”
“You’re right. I’m sorry. I will try to find out how this happened.”
We each finished getting ready to leave, lost in our own thoughts. The ride to my parents’ house was quiet.
Before dinner, I told my family that Bruce’s body had been found and identified.
For the first time in my life, I saw my dad cry.
At the studio on Monday, I asked Carol if she would come to the house and be with me for the official notification. She did. Tony came, too.
At 8 p.m. on Monday, April 1, Firefighter Richie Ting, in full dress uniform, informed me on behalf of the FDNY that Bruce’s body had been identified.
Emily and Meghan chose to stay in their rooms until Richie, Carol, and Tony had left.
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