Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Today, and Every Day... We Remember

In 2009, I signed up for a cooperative blogging project called Project 2,996.

The idea was to ask bloggers across the country to each choose a name from the list of 2,996 lives, tragically lost on September 11, 2001, and write a tribute to that person's life.

That year, I asked to be assigned a name at random.

I didn't anticipate the magnitude of the feelings that would consume me as I researched the life of the person belonging to that single name.

That particular name was inextricably linked to another name on the list -- a spouse -- who was also lost, that day.

Such is the case with tragedy, and especially one of the caliber of devastation that occurred on 9/11/01.

Some families lost several loved ones, that day.

In some cases, folks who had been best friends since childhood perished together on their way to a vacation.

Even those who did not pass with a loved one by their side are still linked, through tragedy. All those names... all those names... all those names weave a tapestry of grief and loss.

However, that tapestry is created of individual threads: each unique, each relevant, and each vibrant.

It is those individual threads which Project 2,996 seeks to recognize and pay tribute to.

Who were they, before they were a name on a list? What did they do, and who did they love, and how is the world changed by their existence -- rather than changed by their death?

And so... we remember.

We remember each soul, each life as it was lived, rather than how it was taken.

Over the years, I've learned about more lives, and added more tributes. When I visited the memorial at Ground Zero in NYC a few years ago, I sought out the memorial plaques for those whose tributes had appeared on this blog.

It was lightly raining, and the gray afternoon sky folded over me like a blanket as I touched each plate, my fingers tracing the etched names.

"I know this person," I whispered.

I'd never met any of those people, of course.

But I knew them.

I spent time learning about their lives, re-reading their tributes each year, committing to memory the details their friends and families shared.

I may never have met them, but I know them.

I hope you'll take the time to know them, too.

Here's a list of tributes which have appeared on my blog, as part of Project 2,996:

 Please take the time to read and share their stories.
And, above all, please... never forget.

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Monday, September 9, 2019

Teaching Kids About Neurodiversity and Self-Advocacy

Image is of almost-13-year old Snugglebug, a female person with dark hair and green eyes, with her mother, a female person with pink hair and green eyes. They are both smiling at the camera.
Image is of almost-13-year old Snugglebug, a female person with dark hair and green eyes, with her mother, a female person with pink hair and green eyes. They are both smiling at the camera.

Update 9/10/19:

I didn't expect for this post to be so widely-read, but I am glad that it has been, and continues to be.

I would be remiss if I didn't point out the ways folks can promote understanding and acceptance of neurodiversity in their own communities.

The first thing, obviously, is to talk to your children. Make conversations about neurodiversity part of routine discussions in your home.

Another powerful thing you can do is to support neurodiversity libraries in your area -- and beyond.

If you're so inclined, please head to Facebook to "like" my brand-new neurodiversity library, North Central Washington Library for Education on NeuroDiversity (NCW LEND), and -- if you're able -- please consider sponsoring a book from our library wishlist on Amazon. Thank you!


My Snugglebug will be 13 in a few short days.

I love this age -- this stretching of wings, testing of boundaries, questioning of All The Things. It's pretty amazing to see a once-child morphing into an almost-adult, and begin to embrace their passions.

Snugglebug is simultaneously blessed and burdened by an abundance of compassion, empathy, and understanding of social justice.

I say "blessed," because it is a notable gift to instinctively see all people as worthy of dignity and respect.

I say "burdened," because... Because sometimes, the world is a pretty overwhelming place for those who are attuned to the mistreatment of others. Once injustice is seen, it can't be unseen, and when it's everywhere... it can make a person begin to lose hope.

That being said, Snugglebug is a fierce self-advocate, and an advocate for others.

This space -- this time of life -- she's in is simultaneously beautiful, and raw.

She's full of energy, right now, and tackling ableism every time I turn around. She knocks down one challenge, and is immediately ready for the next. I have to remind her sometimes that a little bit of down time for self-care and spiritual nourishment is not only okay, but necessary.

Snugglebug is neurodivergent. That is, her neurology falls outside the societal expectation of "normal." She has an Individualized Education Program (IEP) at school, which provides reasonable accommodations for her to access and navigate her education.

We've made a point of including her in IEP meetings and discussions -- even before she felt ready to significantly contribute her own ideas. This was, and is, important to us, because:

  • We presume competence in our children.
  • We want her to see advocacy in action.
  • We want her to see her parents and others standing up for her, and that she is worth advocating for.
  • We want to model to her effective language for self-advocacy, when she's ready to use it.
  • We want her to have a voice in plans that involve her.
  • We value her input, when it comes to effective strategies and accommodations for her. She is the authority on her own lived experience.
  • We want her to hear and know what is in her plan, so she can self-advocate when it's not being followed.
You see, I am NOT my daughter's voice, nor is any other parent the voice of their child.

Our job, as parents, is to help cultivate confidence in our children, and to amplify their voices until they're ready to independently assert themselves... but never to speak FOR them.

We talk a lot about neurodiversity in our home. 

We talk about how differences among brains and development are normal within nature, and among humans. We talk about how some people are good at certain things, but might need support to do other things. We talk about how everyone -- no matter how their brain works -- is worthy of respect and support.

And, we talk about ways to stand up for ourselves and others.

As a result, here are a few actions which Snugglebug has independently taken in the last few weeks:

  • When a speech therapist was telling another child not to "squawk" during instructional time, Snugglebug was able to identify to the therapist that the child was vocally stimming, and that some people listen better when they stim. She stood up for the other child, and reminded the therapist that autistic people should never be forced to stifle or abstain from stimming.

  • When a new teacher, on the first day of school, emphasized to the class the importance of maintaining eye contact when the teacher is speaking, Snugglebug was able to write a thoughtful, respectful letter to the teacher, reminding her that eye contact is difficult or even painful for some people -- including Snugglebug -- and that her teacher's words made her feel unaccepted, misunderstood, and unworthy. The teacher was receptive, and thanked Snugglebug for broadening her understanding of the students in her care.

  • When a different teacher refused to allow Snugglebug an accommodation that is in her IEP, Snugglebug was able to correctly identify that she was, by law, allowed the supportive accommodation. She had to do so in front of her entire class, because the teacher had denied the accommodation, in front of everyone. She was made to go to the office until the vice principal confirmed to the teacher that the accommodation was in her IEP and she should be readmitted to class... but she didn't give up. She respectfully stood her ground, because she knew her rights.
(I've shared these examples with Snugglebug's permission.)

It's important to note they most likely never would have happened if we didn't talk, as a family, about neurodiversity.

She wouldn't have had the words to speak about stimming, and eye contact, if we hadn't discussed, as a family, that some people have different needs than others.

They most likely never would have happened if we had shielded our child from her diagnoses, because we "don't want to stigmatize her," or "don't want her to be defined by her diagnosis," or "don't want to label her."

She understands who she is, how her brain works, and what will best help her to be successful. She's not floundering about, in an educational system designed largely for neurotypical students, without proper supports and access.

They mostly likely never would have happened if we didn't presume competence, and allow her to be included in conversations about which supports are most effective for her. 

She knew that provision was in her IEP because she, herself, had asked for it.

"Mom, why do I have to be the one to stand up for what's right?" she asked me, the other night. "Why don't people just naturally do the right thing?"

There it is, I thought. There are the first signs of weariness. The first hints of recognition of the enormity of the fight. The first bits of realization creeping in, indicating that the fight for justice and equality is never over.

And my heart broke a little bit.

She'll be 13 in a few days.

Thirteen is far too young an age for human beings to become cynical. 

It is far too young an age to feel the weight of injustice crushing down upon those still-developing shoulders.

I have to believe there is hope. And I need my daughter to believe it, too.

"Because you get it, sweetie. You understand things that a lot of other people don't -- like that everyone deserves support, and respect, and dignity. You understand that true inclusion benefits everyone. You understand that injustice is all around, and that even though some people mean well, their actions or beliefs are often hurting others.

And, because you understand these things, you are in a position to change them, with your voice.

You are in a position to set an example for those who don't know they can stand up for themselves. 

When you stood in that classroom and said to that teacher, 'I believe I am allowed to do this, because it is in my IEP. Could you please check?' you showed other students in your class that it's okay to ask for and receive accommodations. You showed them it is okay to make sure that everyone has access to education. 

Maybe there are some students in there who have needed to self-advocate, but didn't know they could, or didn't know how.

And now, they've seen it in action. They know how it works.

And do you think that teacher will ever send another student to the office, instead of providing the accommodation the student has asked for?

You taught the students, AND the teacher.

And you taught the teacher who was insisting on eye contact. You did it in a respectful way, and helped her understand that not everyone has the same capacity or need for eye contact. She probably won't place that same emphasis on eye contact, and alienate some students, again, next year, right?

So things will be a little bit smoother for the next students who come along.

Every time you stand up for yourself, and others, there is change. It might be a little bit hard to see, and it might feel tiny, but this...

This, honey, is how we change the world.

One small, or medium, or great big act at a time.

And I want you to know that you have ZERO obligation to continue to do this work, if you don't want to, or if it gets too hard, or if you need a break, or it takes a heavy toll on you.

I will ALWAYS support you, no matter what."

She was silent for a few moments. I thought I'd overwhelmed her, or scared her, or upset her in some way.

But then...

But then, she said, "I think I'm okay. I like using my voice. I think I'm going to keep doing it. And the more people that learn, the more people there will be to help teach others, right?"

There, in that moment, I saw a glimpse of the adult she's becoming, and of the world she is daring to help create.

In that moment, I felt something that's hard to feel, some days.

I felt HOPE.

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Friday, December 14, 2018

7 Reasons Why We Don’t Do Santa at Our House

Even back then, I knew Santa was creepy AF.

(Image is of the author, as a toddler girl. She sits
on the lap of a man dressed as Santa, with a white
beard and red holiday hat. The toddler has dark
blonde hair with a white barrette in it. She wears
blue pants with a floral-patterned top featuring
a blue bow. The child looks frightened, and
is crying.)
I’ve come across an increasing number of folks who literally can’t believe that Santa never makes an appearance at my house, and that we don’t lead our children to believe that Santa is real.

Sure... they can’t believe that, but expect their kids to believe that a jolly old elf makes a trip around the world in about twelve hours, and sneaks into children’s homes.

Here’s the thing. There are a number of reasons why Santa isn’t a “thing” at my house:


Let me just get that out of the way, first. I don’t lie to my children.

I need my children to trust me. I need them to believe I’ll always tell them the truth, when they come to me with questions.

Maybe telling the truth is paramount in my house because of my children’s history (most of my children come from hard places), but there it is.

They have questions about their history, and that's expected. I want them to know that they can ask me anything -- absolutely anything -- and I will tell them the truth, at an age-appropriate level.

I also want them to know and understand that the truth is the expectation in our home. I want and need them to be honest with me, too.

Lying to children for fun, or to create a sense of “magic,” or out of a need for tradition is still lying.

We create our own magic. We create our own traditions. And that magic, those traditions, come from a place of trust.


It’s inevitable that any secret I would try to keep from my kids is going to come out, at some time.

I’d much rather have them learn the truth from me, than for them to feel like I’ve lied to them, and that they can’t trust me.

Funnily enough, we had the opposite happen, when a teacher told Curlytop that Santa was real, and that her parents were lying to her when we said he’s not.

Let me tell you, stern words were had. A lot of them.

I had to explain to the school that when adults tell children that their parents are liars, it grooms the child for abuse, because it conveys that the child can’t trust their parent.

Yes, I just mentioned abuse in a discussion about Santa. I sure did.

Because when children are told “secrets” by adults they can’t share with their parents — no matter how small, it opens the door for adults with ill intent to isolate children, and ask them to keep bigger “secrets.”


Taking things literally sort of comes with the territory in a house where autism rules supreme, but let me just say that the idea of someone seeing me when I’m sleeping is pretty firetrucking creepy.

A lot of the whole Santa sham is about covert surveillance and someone coming into your home without getting caught.

I mean, really.

As an adult, that scares the hell out of me, and I don't even care about getting presents.


“You’d better not cry; you’d better not pout.”

You can’t lay out the Santa ruse without admitting that a lot of songs and stories have already been written, chronicling how the whole Santa gig works.

And this song? This one tells kids they need to stuff their emotions, because Santa is watching.

If my kids are having big feelings, I’m much more interested in learning what is causing them than having kids stuff their feelings for the sake of the creepy old guy who is spying on them.

I mean, let them worry about Google snooping, and their tablets tracking their location, and Amazon feeding them ads based upon their browsing history. Those are REAL things to be worried about.

Am I right?


I give my children gifts because I love them. It’s not conditional upon them being “nice” instead of “naughty.”

Love isn’t conditional. I don’t only love them when they’re being “good.” I love them because they’re my children.


When kids believe that writing a letter to Santa and being “good” will score them whatever they’ve requested, it sets them up to think they just weren’t “good” enough when it doesn’t materialize.

That year when we were losing our house? That year? No amount of “goodness” would have made an Xbox materialize on Christmas morning, and it had nothing to do with behavior. It was all about finances.


How do we explain — if Santa brings toys to “all the good girls and boys” — that children who don’t get gifts from Santa are still good?

How do we explain that Jimmy, who got gum and an orange from Santa, is just as “good” and worthy as Joey, who got a new iPad from Santa?

So... there it is. Seven of the reasons why we don't do Santa at our house.

What do you do at your house? Are you about Santa, or nah? Why, or why not?

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Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Project 2,996: Remember Christopher Zarba

Image source
This tribute is respectfully reposted from 2014.

Christopher R. Zarba, Jr. was born with music in his blood. The 47-year old from Hopkinton, Massachussetts was the son of a composer/piano teacher, the nephew of a talented vocalist, and grew to be an accomplished pianist and French horn player who played with local symphonies when he was free from his work as a software engineer.

A man who never stopped learning, Christopher spoke fluent German and Italian, painted, gardened, and considered algebra and calculus books "pleasure" reading.

Image source
His wife, Sheila -- also a horn player -- and son, also named Christopher, were a source of joy for Zarba. I watched this compilation of home videos, edited by Sheila, with a smile and tears. The love Christopher shows for his family shines through. You'll see him smiling, playing with his son, and being a bit of a goofball at times. For some reason, I noticed a Band-Aid on his thumb in one of the videos, and it made him even more real to me.

Early the morning of September 11, 2001, Christopher boarded American Airlines Flight 11 for a rare business trip in California. At 8:46am EST, the plane crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center.

I'm honored to remember Christopher in life -- that husband, father, son, brother and friend who made silly faces in the mirror, occasionally injured a thumb, created beauty in his life through music, painting and gardening, and never stopped learning about the world around him.

Thank you, Christopher, for the life you lived, and for reminding all of us to truly LIVE.

This tribute is part of Project 2,996, a cooperative online effort to keep alive the memories of the 2,996 victims of the 9/11/01 tragedy. See other participants, and their tributes to those lost, here.

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Project 2,996: Remember Renee Newell

Image source
This tribute is respectfully reposted from 2014.
Have you ever had excellent customer service? The kind that brightens your day, and makes you grateful someone listens, and understands? That was the type of service Renee Newell was known to provide for her clients.

In our busy world, we often have little time to connect with cherished friends. For Renee Newell, 37, of Cranston, Rhode Island, a seminar in Las Vegas was the perfect opportunity to indulge in a girls' "getaway" with her friend, Carol Bouchard, of nearby Warwick, Rhode Island. A customer service agent with American Airlines, Renee booked a flight to Los Angeles, then on to Las Vegas, and secured a companion ticket for Carol. The women planned to stay over an extra day to see the sights of Las Vegas, hit the clubs, and tour the Strip.

At 8:46am EST, their plane -- American Airlines Flight 11 -- crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center.

Renee is described by those close to her as having "...a sense of humor; an eagerness to laugh." She was "a great person and a great mom," and "always had a smile at work."

Renee seemed to have a natural gift for brightening the lives of others, and perhaps that is why she followed a career path of service -- including helping out at her family's restaurant, bartending, and her work for American Airlines. She touched people's lives in a way that made a difference, so much so that customers came in from out of state to honor and remember her life at her wake.

A loving daughter to Lillian and Raymond Tetreault, Renee not only helped out at her family restaurant, but also helped when her father moved into a nursing home, and was a tireless and doting mother to her son, Matthew. She was the loving wife of Paul, and sister to Michelle, James, Robert and Steven, and a special family member or friend to so many more.

Image source
It is an honor to remember Renee Newell today. Her story inspires me to work hard to put a smile onto the faces of my clients, to love deeply, to live boldly, and to laugh as often as possible.

This tribute is part of Project 2,996, a cooperative online effort to keep alive the memories of the 2,996 victims of the 9/11/01 tragedy. See other participants, and their tributes to those lost, here.

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Project 2,996: Remember Christian Adams

Photo source
This tribute is respectfully reposted from 2011.

Christian Adams, 37, was a resident of Biebelsheim, Germany and a well-known authority in the wine industry. Christian served as the deputy director of the German Wine Institute and director of its export department. He was father to Lukas, 7 in 2001, and Theresa, 5 in 2001, and husband to Silke.

Colleagues described Christian as quiet and thoughtful; a man who thought no job was beneath him. He'd worked his way up in the wine industry, and he was known for doing whatever job needed to be done, without hesitation - whether it was hefting cases of wine or uncorking bottles. Carol Sullivan, friend and colleague, said, "One of the things that impressed us most was his depth of knowledge."

Indeed, Christian was revered as an authority on wine, and he'd worked hard to gain his knowledge, obtaining a degree in winemaking and grape-growing from a German university and going on to earn a degree in marketing at University of California, Davis. It was at a German Wine Society convention in Los Angeles that Sullivan, director of the German Wine Information Bureau in New York, met Christian in 1989. Wine Institute officials were so impressed with him, they asked him to help with a symposium on Riesling grapes later that year. He met the director of the Institute at that event, who hired Christian to work in the export division. Christian worked his way up to deputy director in 1995.

Dedicated to keeping fit, Christian enjoyed playing and watching volleyball and basketball and - while known for his quiet demeanor - he enjoyed a good laugh or joke with friends.

Photo source

Christian also ran a winery owned by his wife's family, and September was a busy time for winemaking. Still, the calendar of holidays allowed him to break away from his obligations to attend two wine events in the United States in 2001 - one in New York, which ended September 10, and the other in San Francisco, scheduled to begin on the 13th. It was the second event Christian was headed for when he boarded United Flight 93 on September 11, 2001.

Flight 93 was hijacked by terrorists and crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania after an attempt by crew and passengers to reclaim control of the plane.

Today, I'm asking you join me in remembering the quiet, motivated young husband and father who was Christian Adams. Please say a prayer for his family and loved ones. Christian, you are not forgotten.

This tribute is part of Project 2,996, a cooperative online effort to keep alive the memories of the 2,996 victims of the 9/11/01 tragedy. See other participants, and their tributes to those lost, here.

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Project 2,996: Remember Christoffer Carstanjen

Image source
This tribute is respectfully reposted from 2014.

Christoffer Carstanjen boarded United Flight 175 intending to take a vacation, headed for San Diego, where he was scheduled to attend a motorcycle rally. He was 33 years old on September 11, 2001, a culinary chef and carpenter who built his own home.

A dancer from a young age, Christoffer was a member of the Country Dance and Song Society and the Marlboro Morris Men dancers, where team members nicknamed him "Mr. Wonderful." As one fellow dancer put it, "I looked forward to dancing with Chris because I knew he'd keep me laughing the whole time, and he'd swing so fast I felt like I would fly away."

Christoffer appears to have truly lived life, throwing himself into his passions, and making far-reaching goals for the future, including building a boat and learning to sail it, and establishing a live-in college for senior citizens.

A resident of Turner Falls, Massachusetts, and a computer research specialist for the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Christoffer was part of an internet motorcycle forum, where he earned the nickname "Captain Tupperware," a reference to the brightly-colored Honda motorbike he loved.

When researching Christoffer's life, I found this quote, taken from his website, which I think truly defines his outlook on life:

Best of all.....
Keep healthy, wealthy and wise. Your job is important, but don't live for just your job! Keep active and an open mind. Practice random acts of kindness. Compliment someone each day. Listen to all sides of a story before making a decision. Don't be afraid to admitting on being wrong. Learn the meaning of Life. Try, please try, to live within your means. Don't worry about saving money for your kids' college costs, it means lots more if they pay their own way. Save at least 15% of what you make for retirement. Try to meet someone new everyday. Ann Landers really means well. Plan for the future. Listen and surround yourself with positive people and speakers. Don't let the turkeys get you down. Write when you get work. :-)

Take care,

We should all be so lucky to know who we are, and what we want out of life. Ride on, Christoffer. You are remembered, today and always.

This tribute is part of Project 2,996, a cooperative online effort to keep alive the memories of the 2,996 victims of the 9/11/01 tragedy. See other participants, and their tributes to those lost, here.

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Project 2,996: Remember Samantha Lightbourn-Allen

Image source
This tribute is respectfully reposted from 2014.

Samantha Lightbourn-Allen, 36, was a Budget Analyst for the Department of the Army at the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. A devoted mother to John, Jr. (born in June 1985) and Samantha Brittnie (born on Christmas Day, 1988), she'd returned to work just four days earlier following a business trip and combined family vacation to Miami, Key West, and Disney World.
Samantha and her daughter. Photo source
A devout Christian, Samantha sang in her church choir, supported her children's activities such as Girl Scouts, and looked forward to retiring from the government, as her father had done.

Samantha graduated from high school in 1982 in the top five percent of her class, and went on to major in Business Administration at Prince George's Community College.

From childhood, Samantha loved Disney World and amusement parks, and was described as full of life and telling jokes. Her twin sister, Rennea, nicknamed her "Sennea."

Samantha (front) and her twin sister,
Rennea, at 7 months of age. Photo source

Family members describe Samantha as carefree; not prone to worry. "She just felt when it was your time, it was your time and worrying about it wouldn't change things anyway," her mother, Rebecca Lightbourn said.

I remember Samantha Lightbourn-Allen, and pray for peace for her loved ones.

This tribute is part of Project 2,996, a cooperative online effort to keep alive the memories of the 2,996 victims of the 9/11/01 tragedy. See other participants, and their tributes to those lost, here.

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Project 2,996: Remember Shannon Lewis Adams

Photo from
This tribute is respectfully reposted from 2014.

Much like myself, Shannon Lewis Adams, 25, grew up in a small town (Star Lake, New York). Like mine, Shannon's graduating class was less than three dozen students. He had a longstanding dream to leave his small hometown, in search of something bigger.

That dream landed him on the 101st floor of Tower One in the World Trade Center, as a fixed-income account at Cantor Fitzgerald. His mother, Gwyn Adams, reported he was so proud of his new career in the big city, having come from a town without a single stoplight. He set up a bachelor pad with friends in Astoria, complete with a huge fish tank, a big-screen television and a wall full of music.

According to his father, Lew Adams, "He was going 100 miles an hour all the time, it seems like. The city seemed to satisfy that a lot better than the northern Adirondacks."

Classmate Seth Adam Stuart described Shannon as "...pure fun," a living life to the fullest, and trying to make everyone around him happy with his wide grin.

Perhaps, because I come from a tiny town with no stoplights, and graduated with a class of 24 students, I imagine the pride and feeling of success Shannon must have experienced when he arrived in New York City. I am glad he was able to reach for that dream, and saddened that his success was cut short. I hope, as Shannon's best friend, Brad Siskavich, suggests, family and friends are able to "...remember the positives as opposed to the fact that he's just not here anymore."

I know, for me, I picture Shannon's compassion and hard work. I imagine him playing hockey with friends. I envision how he made people smile, just by sharing his life and his heart.

This tribute is part of Project 2,996, a cooperative online effort to keep alive the memories of the 2,996 victims of the 9/11/01 tragedy. See other participants, and their tributes to those lost, here.

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Project 2,996: Remember CeeCee Lyles

Photo source
This tribute is respectfully reposted from 2011.

To be honest, I chose the name CeeCee Lyles because our family nickname for Snugglebug is "SeeSee." I was initially compelled to write Mrs. Lyles's story simply because of her name, but what I found in my research was the story of a mother, a wife, and a hero.

CeeCee was a 33-year-old resident of Fort Myers, Florida who'd fulfilled a lifelong dream in becoming a flight attendant after years of police work that took her from patrol officer to detective. In her law enforcement work, she was respected for "for her willingness to tackle fleeing criminals." A single mother, CeeCee provided for her two sons by working multiple jobs while still finding time to volunteer for a Christian women's shelter. In 1997, she began a relationship with police dispatcher Lorne Lyles, and the two married in 2000. It was the second marriage for both of them, and Lorne brought his own two sons to the family, making CeeCee and Lorne the proud parents of four.

People described CeeCee as an easygoing woman who loved to talk and enjoyed people. She was thoughtful, kind and caring. How natural that when United Flight 93 was overtaken by hijackers, she'd reach out to her family. CeeCee's cell phone call to her husband reveals her professional training. She is calm, explaining the situation. Still, toward the end, the heart of a wife and mother comes through clearly - her words are tinged with emotion and love.

At 10:03:11, Flight 93 crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, after an attempt by passengers and crew to reclaim the plane. It has been presumed that the intended target of the hijacked plane was the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. Shortly before the crash, CeeCee called her husband again, telling him that passengers were preparing to force their way into the cockpit.

It is unclear whether the brave passengers and crew were successful in breaching the cockpit, but it has been established that the hijackers knew of their efforts and heard the heroes coming.

I imagine CeeCee Lyles passed on to heaven as she lived - taking care of others, calming and soothing them while remaining vigilant and seeing that an attempt at rescue was made.

Four sons, a loving husband and many co-workers, family members and friends were left behind to miss and remember CeeCee. I hope you'll remember not only this beautiful, brave woman, but her loved ones, as well, in your prayers.
Photo source

Thank you, CeeCee, for your service and sacrifice. You are not forgotten.

This tribute is part of Project 2,996, a cooperative online effort to keep alive the memories of the 2,996 victims of the 9/11/01 tragedy. See other participants, and their tributes to those lost, here.
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