Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Note That Made Its Way Home


On September 11, 2001, Randy Scott wrote a note and threw it out of the window from the 84th floor of the World Trade Center. Ten years later it made it into the hands of his widow after a lab determined who the blood belonged to. Such a simple note, but so powerful that it floated down 84 floors and through many sets of hands before getting into her hands. His family had believed he had died instantly after UA flight #175 struck right below his floor. His wife said that she had hoped for ten years that he had not been trapped in the building, and to find out that he had, changed everything.

80 comments:

auntliddy said...

The whole day is an abyss of sadness. My love to all involved.

MISCH said...

Oh so very sad.

goheels83 said...

Agreed @auntliddy. Absolutely heartbreaking.

Lola said...

So sad.

libby said...

I don't think I'd want to know...dear god.

katsm0711 said...

Would you rather have the last thing your loved one wrote or the false belief that kept you a little saner than knowing the truth?

Cara said...

Ugh. If I were his widow, I can't say I'd even want this note. Is it better to keep this from someone in order to spare them the pain of knowing a loved one died a much more horrible death than they thought? What a sad, sad day.

EmEyeKay said...

I'd prefer to have been left in the dark. That poor woman. Now she's forced to rethink everything. Ouch.

Syko said...

Better if the note never found her. She was dealing with the loss by believing he never knew what hit him...and to learn now that not only did he know, but apparently was injured, since there is blood on the note... just horrible.

lifeiscrazy said...

I read the full article - not only did his family have to rethink what happened that day, but his widow then had to muster up the courage to reach out to his co-workers families. I don't know that I would be able to do that, but then I would feel guilty of withholding the truth from them. It really is a catch-22. So tragic.

AKM said...

Unbelievably painful. I can't imagine what that widow has to think about now.

Frufra said...

This is the saddest thing I've read today. It would have been much more merciful for that note to have been filed away somewhere, or even destroyed. Heartbreaking. Unthinkable.

Seachica said...

God, that note makes me so sad. I wish it had been made part of a public memorial, but with no indication of who wrote it. Reopening that wound with the family is tragic.

I haven't had my first cry yet today about 9/11, but it's coming. Damn semi-public office space!

lostathome said...

That made me cry just thinking about it. Those poor people had to fall with the towers. They should have never told the wife.

libby said...

Speaking of a final note---I will admit this here, because i know she won't find it---But my best friend lost her husband to alcoholism & suicide 6 years ago. He had started hitting her, so he took himself out so he wouldn't hurt her anymore--true story.

In the hours after it happened, she was crying and saying she was too afraid to live without him, over & over....So that night, before I left her in the care of her mother, I scribbled a note and stuck it to her fridge..it said "Never be afraid, because you are loved."

I had totally forgotten that my handwriting looked just like her now-dead husband. So when she found it the next morning, she assumed it was a last note from him, and cherishes it to this day. When she showed it to me, I didn't have the heart to tell her it was just me being schmaltzy.

Thanks for reading. It's hard to keep a secret like that from my best friend. It hurts my heart. i wonder if I'll ever be able to tell her.

smashbash said...

This article has really struck a cord with me. It brake my heart, makes me cry and makes me Want to hug that woman so hard. I would want the note. If it were the love of my life, my husband, the father of my children. I would want the last words he had wrote down. I would just want his last strokes of a pen.

Del Riser said...

Pain upon pain. She knows he tried to help those people.

I was widowed, eight years after, I was sent pictures of Jimmy in his casket by the funeral home. Some wounds get reopened.

I wish her the strength to deal with this new reality and carry on.

libby said...

Del, WTH? Funeral homes are supposed to know better!

Carolyn said...

Wow. I don't really have any words right now.

Frufra said...

Oh, libby, don't ever tell her. I think it was meant to be that she thought the note was a last bit of kindness from her husband. Try to hold it in your heart and know that the truth would be too hurtful.

Suicide is so difficult to process - the conflicting emotions of grief, anger, and confusion over why and what could I have done to stop it. I wouldn't wish that aftermath on my worst enemy. My grandfather committed suicide, and it was like a bomb that tore threw our family. I can't even imagine loosing my husband to it.

Hugs to you, libs. You are an angel for standing by your friend while she dealt with that. Maybe you were meant to write those words of comfort to her - maybe her husband moved through you.

Frufra said...

P.S. - I realize I said "tore threw" when I should have said "tore through". Oops. Words are tricky.

evergrey said...

Good point @lifeiscrazy! She has to be one strong, brave woman. I pray for her to find some comfort and peace as she deals with this new pain.

KZoeT said...

Though I didn't lose anyone in the 9/11 attacks, the anniversary still rips me to shreds every year. This note ... oh my god, this note ... my heart goes out that poor woman.

libby said...

Wow, thanks Frufra.

Everybody--I promise i wasn't trying to sound self-indulgent telling my unrelated, far less tragic story about a note. It's just a similar situation, kind of, in that my friend is probably better off not knowing.
It's a struggle because she always posts that note on his death anniversary.

And no, Frufra--I wouldn't tell her anytime soon. I was thinking more 30 years later, could I tell her? Just wondering aloud.

figgy said...

@libby what a story! You are right not to tell your friend, poor thing.

And this woman...I would not want to know. To this day I cannot ponder for more than a few moments what these people went through.

Jolene Jolene said...

@Del Riser--What?! I've never heard of that before. Did they give you a reason why they sent you those? That would be so difficult. I'm so sorry.

Frufra said...

libby, you know, maybe in 30 years. When she has moved past the grief and can look at things in a more holistic fashion. Time tends to fade away the death, and let you remember more about the life of the person you miss. You know, the good times and qualities that you loved.

I could see that conversation with your friend, years down the road, being really magical.

Frufra said...

Oh, and this kind of sharing is what keeps me coming back to CDAN. I love having a place to tell our stories, get advice, even be bitchy sometimes. It is extremely beneficial to me, and I love it! Oh, and I'm a gossip-monger, too :-), so there's that.

brittiany said...

Im glad you didn't tell her. I think that a higher power wanted her to have that closure and she was provided it through you.

Cornbread said...

This note absolutely breaks my heart. To think of those people, trapped, my gosh...I can't even put the anguish and pain into words. I have thought about, prayed for and shed tears for all those affected.

If I were his wife, although it would be painful to know, I'd still want to know. I would want the note. I would want to hold it, hug it, just be close to his last thoughts. And it would give me comfort knowing he was trying to help others.

@libby, I agree with Frufra...I think it was no mistake that your best friend thought her husband left the note, and I think you've given her a gift more precious than anything - peace and comfort, during an extremely difficult time. <3

Jamie 2 said...

Nope, Libby - never tell her. You never intended to mislead her, but she clearly takes great comfort from it if she is still posting it on the anniversaries.

If you tell her, beyond risking hurting her, I think you'd lose her friendship. If I discovered my best friend had been (tacitly) lying to me for 30 years about something so important, it would really shatter my trust in that friend.

I'm afraid you're stuck with this little act of unintentional kindness.

Jeneral said...

In this case, I'd choose the false belief. That letter would provide no comfort, only pain.

skimpymist said...

So sad. This is all she has left of him. May god bless his soul

lucy said...

Hi Libby-

I'm not new here, but I don't post often. Your story just took my breath away.
My instinct is to say don't tell her, but only you know your friend and your relationship well enough to make that decision. If you do continue to keep it a secret, don't agonize over it. It was written out of love and did exactly what it intended to do, which was to provide her with comfort, confidence, security, and compassion at a time when she couldn't fathom her existence. What you did was a good thing that became beyond great when she let it help her.
...just make sure that if she ever decides to clean house she keeps several other cherished mementos.

Jamie 2 said...

I have to agree with those saying that this should never have been shared with the wife. Probably the forensics people had no choice but to, but damn it so much. How heart-breaking for her and her children to re-open the wound and realize their husband/Dad died under even more horrible circumstances.

Nellie said...

@ libby- please dont ever tell her.

Robin the Mad Photographer said...

Libby: Don't ever tell her, not even years from now--all the comfort she's gained from it would be ruined if you fessed up. Besides, who's to say that's not what her husband was thinking? It seems to me that if he killed himself rather than to continue to hurt her, then he did care about her and would have wanted her to go on without him. Just think of it as the universe or some higher power using you as a conduit for a message your friend needed in her hour of despair, OK?

Del Riser said...

@Libby and @ Jolene Jolene, I have no idea. The owners were two elderly brothers. Maybe they died and someone just mailed the envelope. I was told at the time of his death there were photos and did I want them, I said "No". The envelope was actually forwarded to me as I had moved back to Washington.

It was a shock back then, but time does it's job thank goodness.

yodelay said...

This story is so sad. Not only do I feel for the wife, but also the people who had to make the decision whether or not to forward this to her. They must go through that over and over & don't know how it will affect each family.

And Libby, please don't tell.

Snapdragon said...

Oh, libby. I would have to agree--leave her in the dark on this one.

And this note, oh.

libby said...

Thanks for the input guys, really.

I'm not particularly spiritual, but that is an interesting idea--him communicating through me.

Thank god my initial instinct was NOT to tell her---she was such wreck for months.

SusanB said...

@libby - you did the right thing. And who knows? Perhaps it was a message from him directed through you to her.

califblondy said...

Libby, don't tell. Who would it benefit after all this time? Keep it in your heart and believe that it was his message through you.

As hard as it was reading that note, I would want to know. I would be proud to see how my S.O. thought of others and did something or the only thing he could do to try and get help.

Kewi said...

While this would definitely open an old wound, through it all I hope she can see that this note shows what a great man he was. It doesn't say "help me I'm trapped", he was thinking of everyone in the office with him and used what was probably his last bit of energy to make sure someone got rescued. I hope she frames this and finally finds closure.

Kewi said...

@Libby- What you did was a beautiful thing, your friend is blessed to have you in her life.

Jennifer H. said...

I'm split on this. If I was the widow, I'd never want to know this. My heart breaks for her.

On the other hand, this is the truth of what happened. I am so glad Bin Laden is dead. Evil Bastard.

PugsterMom said...

You did the right thing by keeping quiet.

Smokey772 said...

I think this has answered a lot of people's questions to the whole idea of would you rather know or not. I'm not judging anyone in this thread, or saying 1 decision is better than another. For me, I would rather know. I'd rather know the truth than be in the dark forever. I'd also treasure something that my husband wrote and held in his last minutes before death than nothing at all. Sometimes pain and sadness is difficult, but you are better for it. I'd rather be stronger through tragedy than sheltered and protected my entire life.

Maja. With a J. said...

I don't think I would want this note. It's amazing that they found it and figured out who wrote it, but man...thinking and hoping for 11 years that your loved one at least died instantly and did not suffer, and then finding out that they were alive, maybe injured and probably terrified. I don't know. It would probably drive me insane thinking about it.


And Libby, I agree with everyone else, don't tell your friend that you wrote that note. It was clearly what she needed.

Ari said...

at least she knew the last moments of his life...i don't even want to imagine anymore

Kari said...

This is so sad. @libby, what an incredible story.

Silly Girl said...

@libby, the belief that he wrote the note 'through you' is a beautiful, spiritual thing. If you did tell her, not only may she have issues with you (for doing it and NOT telling her until now), but she may also feel foolish for actually 'believing' that her husband really did 'love her'. I'm putting that in quotes, because when you are dealing with an alcoholic you are dealing with someone who is not quite stable. It could be a HUGE, unrecoverable blow to her psyche if you told her the 'truth'. Let it ride, as they say....

Amy in MI said...

It's a catch 22. Knowing that's the last thing your husband did before dying, it may be something to help ease the grieving. Knowing he possibly suffered makes it worse. But knowing he is at peace now should last forever

Shallow Gal said...

I'm impressed with all the folks who worked this case the hours, weeks, days, years, and now decades after it happened. The fact that they worked so diligently to find out who wrote this note shows the care that has gone into trying to find nuggets of solace in a horrific situation. While the hijackers represent the worst of humanity, the people who worked on getting this not back to the writer's family absolutely represent the best in humanity.

JoElla said...

Libby, I am thankful you told your story especially on this post. it is so much easier to focus on the healing story instead of the heartbreak of the 9/11 note.

Please don't tell your friend. Let us carry your secret for you now. You no longer have to live with it anymore. We will all gladly do it for you now.

Call me yndy... said...

Libby - don't ever tell. The only person who would be "relieved that the secret is out" is you. If you love your friend? Bear that burden of keeping it to your own grave. It's a little sacrifice that makes a lot of difference to her.

On the tower note? Yes, I'd want it. I'd never recover from the event as it is, so having that one last thing even with the horrible truth behind it? I'd say yes.

Mango said...

Weren't there literally *millions* of pieces of office paper floating and swirling around the City after the planes struck the WTC buildings? How amazing that someone found and read the note and it got turned over to the appropriate authorities.

@ Libby - I agree with everyone else; don't tell your friend.

Sherry said...

Libby..Agreed...Let her have that last memory that her husband loved her. Never, ever tell.

Personally I'm not sure how much I'd want to recieve a note like that so many years later. That would be opening the wound for me.

Lynette said...

Libby, I believe as someone else mentioned that perhaps the words that came to you to write on that note came from a higher power. You were just the messenger. Don't tell her.
As for Randy Scott's note, it would be heartbreaking to receive it and realize what your husband went through, but I'd want to know. And again, the fact that a single piece of paper found it's way back to the widow indicates a higher power at work.

Amartel said...

Stories like this really bring it all back, the horror and humanity of that day. Which is good because we should make every effort to remember. In the end, knowing the truth is better than wondering or, shudder, being left in the dark albeit with the best of intentions. I would choose to know the truth about the person I love even if this resulted in more grief for me personally. I would feel like I owed them that.

Borg Queen said...

@ Libby - What you did for your friend, however unintentional, was beautiful thing. Like so many others have said, you may have been an instrument for a higher being to give your friend peace. Your friend was an emotional wreck and your note may have given her the strength to go on. Never tell. Sometimes holding things back from a friend might be better for the friend in the long run. A true friend knows what one can and cannot handle. You gave your friend peace of mind and that is better than telling the truth (in this instance).

Dulcinea said...

My dad's cousin died in a helicopter crash while serving in the Army during Vietnam. His mom, my great-aunt, was just told the helicopter was shot down, and that is what she believed for 25 years. However, one day a man knocked on her door, and said that he needed to tell her something that had been on his heart all this time. Her son wasn't "shot down" like had been reported; rather, the helicopter pilot committed suicide after leaving a note - he just killed the other 7 people who were in the helicopter with him when he crashed on purpose.

I know that guy who told my aunt had dealt with that guilt for years, but I really, really with all my heart wish he had kept that to himself. I feel the same way about this note.

kerri said...

Libby, you are a wonderful person, you did the right thing by letting her have that comfort in thinking he wrote it.

Jamie 2 said...

@Dulcinea: What a terrible story. I too wish he had kept it to himself. He's so selfish for contacting her. He wasn't even in the plane accident/suicide.

A mom of a Vietnam vet who died 25 years ago has to be getting on in age now. How awful that he thought he could unburden himself of a secret at the expense of an elderly woman who lost her son.

Not right! Not fitting!

astrogirl said...

All your beautiful and heart wrenching stories show that LOVE really does make the world go round.


BFSkinnerchick said...

You just might have saved her life. You did the right thing.

BFSkinnerchick said...

You just might have saved her life. You did the right thing.

WUWT? said...

Dulcinea, is there any proof to what the man said? Hard to believe anyone would lie like that, but people sometimes do. I think your aunt should take comfort in the offical story unless someone can actually show (and not just say) that it didn't happen that way.

(Who has time to write a note explaining what he did (killing 7 passengers) while flying a helicopter before crashing it? It seems illogical.) (But, even if the guy's story is true, unless her son was the pilot, it doesn't change that her son died while serving his country.) (And if her son was the pilot, who knows what war horrors he witnessed to push him that far?)

Hazeldazel said...

Libby, never ever tell her. no good will come of telling her, trust me.

Wil said...

I would not want to know that. I am sorry but I just would be tortured to know my loved one was not killed immediately in that area and suffered the horror of those last few moments. No .. I don't think this note did this poor gal any favors. I think she would have been better off not knowing.

WUWT? said...

Wil!!! It is so good to see you back! I hope you are doing well.

All about Eve said...

You did the right thing libby!

Dulcinea said...

My understanding is that he wrote a suicide note before leaving his living quarters. It was found after the crash. I really don't know te veracity of it all; just seems like something someone would want to unburden themselves of. My aunt really handled it much better than the rest of us-we were really mad at the messenger. She was just heart broken. "/

Henriette said...

I don't think the wife needed to read this. It would have been better for her to go on believing what she did.

There are so many sad stories on this day. I was reading about a fireman who found a note in Ground Zero that said: "Today I'm going to be a better, father, brother, friend, son." It was a list of what the guy was going to be. The fireman still cries thinking about it.

andrea mclean said...
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andrea mclean said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
andrea said...

My dad died in a plane crash when I was 11. I was not given any specific details about his condition, or why the plane crashed, because everyone on the plane died. I was only told that he died immediately. My mom identified his clothes and said only his lower pant leg had blood on it. I always imagined he died sitting in his seat with his knee cut. I never tried to imagine anything else.

As I got older, my pain was unbearable just with the loss. Then I started wanting to know why it happened, and started looking for answers. I received the accident report, which didn't mean much to me. Then my sisters and I found his autopsy report. It was like we were finding him, something from him, something to take away the pain.

I was not prepared for what I learned from that autopsy report. I can only pray he died instantly because otherwise he would have suffered a lot. I now suffer PTSD just from reading that (like I didn't already have it from the loss). For about two years after I had terrible dreams about death and seeing mangled bodies. My loss is even worse now that I have this potent visual of his death.

I agree with everyone's comments so far, the man's widow would want to have something of her husband's. When you lose someone you'll do anything just to feel close to them again. You tell yourself it doesn't matter what you find out, you just want them back. Unfortunately this may very well trigger the loss all over again when she may have already established her way to cope.

xo

Agent**it said...

Andrea. Bless you. It comes at you in waves as you grow older. Sounds like you are pulling yourself out of the abyss. You will feel lighter in the days ahead. There's no time line, remember that. When that wave of grief comes over you, remember that it is but a wave that receeds. If you can learn to live in the present moment, it helps.

Principessa said...

Let's just say that some higher power helped you write that note, and you've provided your friend with comfort and closure :)

Lelaina Pierce said...

I was watching "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close" last night and simultaneously reading first hand accounts from people that day, just as I always do every year. Thinking of anyone who had to suffer more than a second is just so painful and I didn't even *know* anyone who passed away that day. I just cannot imagine the horror.