Sunday, September 11, 2011


Diamonds are forever but the little prongs that hold them into place are far less eternal. Two of mine gave out about a month ago, breaking off cleanly from the side of my engagement ring and taking with them the half-moon diamond that had hugged the exalted sapphire to their side. I would have searched my car, my house, and every blade of grass between the two had I not known, in my gut, where the diamond most likely was: the isle of Manhattan.  We’d just returned from a weekend in the city, an urban haystack for the most expensive needle I could have lost.

I am not sentimental about objects but as I’ve tried to get this little diamond replaced, I’ve had to face the fact that it had symbolic meaning.

My husband, Tom, pulled that diamond, and the ring of which it was a part, out of his pocket on September 15, 2001. 

Five nights before, on September 10, I had been finishing up work on a story during my stint at CBS NEWS/48 Hours. I was in Florida and needed to get back to New York City but my plane in Tallahassee had mechanical problems. A call to Tom and I got a pep talk.

I flew on to Atlanta.

The next flight, if I could get on it, would get me into New York late that night. I was tired and superstitious, and considered staying in Atlanta and catching a flight early the next morning.

Tom convinced me to get home as soon as I could.

I remember several details about that flight home to New York on September 10, 2011. An unusual bomb-detecting wand at security in Florida, the cockpit door the pilots had left open until we were practically taking off, and the raucous, intoxicated atmosphere on what felt like a party-plane that I rode from Atlanta into Newark in the darkness of night.

And I remember a feeling of relief when I finally saw Tom and his shoebox apartment, and the little fish in his aquarium we’d just given names to.

 The next morning I took a cab across town to my apartment and dropped off my bags. I needed to go downtown to my old voting precinct to vote in the mayoral primary.

I don’t know if it was the obligation I felt to get to work on time, or the lessening of pressure I felt to fulfill my civic duty that came with the distraction of falling in love, as I’d been doing that summer, but I never hopped the train downtown to vote that morning.

At 8:46 am, I was in an office building at West 57th instead of somewhere south of Canal Street.

The next weekend we’d intended to head to Washington, DC to see my folks.

We stayed in New York instead. And, somehow, on that Saturday, September 15, made our way past suits of armor and tapestries and up to the top of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. After days of feeling the erosion of everything that was knowable, Tom took me to a place that was a reminder of what was enduring.

The atmosphere in New York was still heavy with a grieving, mystified uncertainty.  But Tom took out the ring and asked me to marry him, with a sense of calm, that was then, as it is now, unshakable.  

So, my little diamond, the rebel who has broken free from the trio of stones that have sat together for the past decade, it seems you have returned to Manhattan.

You’re a silly thing to miss, especially on a day like today. But, for me, and perhaps other husbands and wives who've felt stronger because of the love, glimmering or internal, that their spouse has given them, you’re a good thing to remember.


Tim Morrissey said...

What a beautiful, touching story - on so many levels. Deeply moving without being maudlin. Thank you for telling this story.

Ann Imig said...

Such a beautiful post, Sarah.

Houston! said...

Great post. Really loved it. I spent my 9/11 yesterday watching a documentary with my son, who was a tiny infant when I watched the buildings get hit on TV. Now, he's ten and I can't think of a better person to share the bewilderment of the anniversary with. I know it was scary and confusing for him to watch, but he now understands why his uncle had to be deployed 7 times in the past ten years and what he was fighting for. He also said that he now understands why we all love NY so much in my family. He is a wise soul, probably because of all the comfort he brought us that September 10 years ago. I loved your story!

Anonymous said...

Wonderful, sweet story,Sarah. Something you'll tell your girls one of these days.

Jessica F. said...

Great story. Thanks for this. Loved it.

parenting ad absurdum said...

Oh no! It's beautiful. Love the saphire!

Angie said...

Sarah, that is so lovely. Your replacement diamond will share some hearty mojo with its Manhattan brother. What a topsy turvy time to have lived there... thanks for sharing your story.

EasyLunchboxes (Kelly Lester) said...

I'm getting all teary reading this Sarah. I would be devastated if I lost the stone in my engagement ring. But somehow, your telling the story of it probably brought it back in a sense. I'm sure it will stay close in your heart. And it (your story) certainly touched mine.