Nowhere is that more evident, reports Carol Marin, than in Middletown, N. J., right across the water from what was the World Trade Center.
In the aftermath of the terrorist attack that leveled those buildings, theres a funeral or memorial service in Middlletown nearly every day.
Petrina Picerno buried her husband, Matthew, Thursday. In the beginning, she held out some hope for her children.
I guess from Thursday morning on, Picerno said, I was telling them, Gee, you know it - it's a couple of days. They haven't found anybody from Daddy's company, Cantor-Fitzgerald. And my older son was getting mad that I was giving up hope.
And then on Sunday, I gave them a little more reality: there's still nobody found. And then Monday pretty much was the day - we were in the car in my garage, and I turned around and I told them, Guys, Daddy's probably not coming home. Daddy is probably dead."
I hope youre having a good time up in heaven, he wrote. You would not believe how many people came to your funeral, it was about a thousand.
Susan Buhses two children are too young to write letters. Their father Patrick, like Matthew Picerno, worked for Cantor-Fitzgerald at the top of the World Trade Center.
Wedneday morning, when they woke up, Buhse said. I brought the into my bed and I just said that something happened to daddys building and hes lost.
My daughter just said that we should get in the car and go to work and find him if hes lost. And I said that we cant go to daddys work.
In Middletown, which has become a town of young widows and fatherless children, the question Wheres Daddy? is the most difficult to answer.
He will say, Whens Daddy coming home, or I want my Daddy I want my Daddy and I will honestly say to him, Daddys not coming home; Daddys with God and Mommys here, Buhse said.
With her daughter, its a bit different.
I sit down with her, Buhse said. I try to get on her level or face to face and explain to her the best that I can. Its kind of hard to explain to somebody what you dont really, truly understand and I try to talk to her everytime I see that she needs me.
Its a staggering statistic: 1,500 children out of one company alone have lost at least one parent. Thousands more have lost sons and daughters, brothers and sisters.
Mark Merezio is the 18-year-old godson of Matthew Picerno.
I am terrified for what happened to him, he said. Terrified what happened to him at the last moments before after all the mourning, there is lots of anger. For kids at school who did not know anybody, there was anger. They wanted to enlist to get revenge for whomever is responsible for this.
Asked to describe his uncle, Merezio said, I always wanted to be just like him. He was a business guy. He was sharp looking. I wanted to dress in a suit and go to work every day like he did. Im going to miss him so much. He was my hero.
Petrina Picerno, meanwhile, tries to keep her husbands spirit live for her children.
I just dont think of being dead and buried as gone, she said. I just think that theres - you know, hes still with us. And I try to teach my children that, and they know that, too.
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