543 Day Writing Journey

They Do Good. Day 162.

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“Tunnel to Towers wants to give you a house!” It was Nancy Gass, a recipient of the foundation and the Gold Star Ambassador and Advisor for them. We had been chatting recently after my Uncle Lee insisted I fill out an application.

“I can figure out this whole house thing on my own,” I said to him. (I’ve always been the queen of I’m fine.)

“Just try,” he said many times.

The phone call came on my birthday, January 13, 2021. The sun was shining through the windows on the cold, winter day in Massachusetts, and my anxiety had been high. The housing market was climbing at the most alarming rates, and my equity was not going to cover relocation to North Carolina or another house for us to live in.

I could hear Nancy giggling on the phone, the emotion high in her voice.

“What?!” I was in shock. “I don’t know what to say.” I swallowed the lump in my throat, not entirely believing it was true.

The call ended and I ran to the living room where the three younger boys were as I dialed Tyler’s number in North Carolina. I couldn’t wait to tell my oldest child that after too many years, we were coming home to be closer to him. Home.

There would be no more Zoom Christmases, no more long drives to spend a week together with Tyler, and absolutely no more early mornings driving to the airport with torn-up insides. They will be forever imprinted in my brain, the airport in view, hearing the truck door close, driving away with blurred eyes.

“Have your wallet?” I asked Tyler every time. Gisele, his pup, would sit near him staring, knowing he was about to leave.

“Yes. I want to print my tickets.” The printer would never work. We filled travel mugs with coffee that would make us feel ill, and I would sob while I waited in the truck with Gisele so he could say goodbye to his three brothers. We would never have to do that again because of the angels who came to save us, angels who do good.

The Tunnel to Towers Foundation does what they do to honor Stephen Siller, husband and father of five. Their website says, “Stephen drove his truck to the entrance of the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, but it had already been closed for security purposes. Determined to carry out his duty, he strapped 60 lbs. of gear to his back, and raced on foot through the tunnel to the Twin Towers, where he gave up his life while saving others.”

His family created T2T to honor his memory and sacrifice. They offer mortgage-free homes to surviving first responder spouses with young children, Gold Star spouses with young children, first responders and military members who have suffered catastrophic injury, and they offer tiny houses to homeless veterans. They do more as well, and for me and my boys, they brought us together again at a time when it would have been impossible.  

Our very own front porch

I finally realized it was all real and began working with a sweet, yet tough woman named Janice to find us the perfect house. She knew the business and was not afraid to fight for us. Her name became a common word in our house. I remember being a little embarrassed about some of our quirks.

“Well, we have roosters. I know it’s not that important . . .”

“If it’s important to you and the kids, it’s important to us,” Janice said. “This is about you and the boys.”

The perfect yard for our roosters. Thanks, Janice.

Together, we found the perfect house in North Carolina, one where we could continue our forward movement, and one we can make memories in. Our gratitude is immeasurable, and our peace is tangible. We are thriving in ways we haven’t since we lost Roger years ago, and our positive outlook as a family is limitless.

No more Thanksgivings apart

Tunnel to Towers didn’t only save us by giving us a home, they invited us to join their family. They keep in touch, send hand-written birthday cards and notes, and connect us to others like us. Like other recipients, we are learning how to live in the present, putting effort into looking forward to a promising future, and doing this all while recognizing our pasts, but not remaining trapped in them.

*To learn more about the Tunnel to Towers Foundation, or to donate, please visit their web site. Have a tissue handy. The stories are incredible. I will link you to Roger’s story and you can click on their home page from there. Here it is: Roger’s Story

Click here to read about my writing journey that is dedicated to Roger: 543

8 thoughts on “They Do Good. Day 162.”

  1. We are soooo happy it all finally came together and you never gave up. Your strength and persistance finally paid off for you and the boys. Keep on believing in the good in people.
    Love you all,
    auntie sue ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m so thankful for Tunnels to Towers, also, because it brought you and your family back together and as whole as you can be, without Roger, and it brought you closer to ME!

    Liked by 1 person

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