Bonnie McEneaney’s Messages is about those who died on September 11, 2001. Yet anyone who has ever lost a loved one will find comfort, solace, peace, and, yes, love within these pages. For even though her book deals with death, her book also deals with life after death for those who leave us but still, in many ways, remain with us.
McEneaney’s husband, Eamon, was in the World Trade Center when the planes hit on that tragic day. Standing in her backyard in Connecticut, shortly after receiving the devastating news, Bonnie screamed, “Eamon, where are you???” never expecting an answer. She didn’t hear his voice, but the still air suddenly became a violent wind that rustled the trees, stirred the leaves, and lifted Bonnie’s skirt. As quickly as the wind arrived it left. At that moment, Bonnie knew that Eamon was gone and he had somehow delivered that message himself.
Coincidence? Maybe. Eamon, however, wasn’t done communicating with his wife. There was the blue heron, not a native bird in Connecticut and one that held special significance to Bonnie’s family, that suddenly appeared in the cemetery while she was selecting a burial plot. There was the penny with a particular date on it that inexplicably turned up in a menu when Bonnie was dining out with friends. There was the return of Eamon’s wedding ring, somehow found amidst all the debris at Ground Zero. And when Bonnie thought back to the days before September 11, she recalled Eamon’s somber mood, how he had expressed concern about the future. One example: “You know, every morning when we leave for work, we don’t know if we’ll return.” Another: “Bonnie, you’d better start applying more discipline to the children, because when I’m gone, you’re going to have a hard time.”
If Bonnie had kept her thoughts to herself, the story might have ended there. Once she began to talk with other relatives of those who had died on 9/11, however, she knew she was not alone. Was it possible that those who died were communicating with their loved ones? Even, in some cases, appearing to them? It’s easy to dismiss one, two, even a dozen stories. Bonnie has pulled together so many that the sheer volume becomes difficult to ignore.
While the book focuses on the tragedy of that horrible September day, anyone who has ever felt the presence of a loved one who has died will be comforted by Messages. Is it wishful thinking that those who die go on to a better place? Perhaps. Do those left behind convince themselves that their relatives have found peace to ease their own suffering? How do those who don’t believe in life after death reconcile loss?
Messages can’t answer all those questions of course. No one can. So much has been written about 9/11, about the violence, the hatred, the destruction. Messages can’t erase the past. But Bonnie’s message may offer the best way of coping with the future.
Signs, Visits, and Premonitions from Loved Ones Lost on 9/11