This report aired on Dateline, Aug. 20, 2002
Aug. 20 — Flight 93 will be remembered as a tale of heroism, but also as a love story. A runway delay at Newark Airport in New Jersey gave the passengers and crew a chance none of the other hijacked planes had that morning — a fighting chance, and for many, a chance to say goodbye to a mother, to a husband, to a wife. Lyz Glick lost her husband Jeremy that day. She has been sharing her stories with “Dateline” in the months since. She had been a widow only 48 hours when ‘Dateline’ first met her nearly a year ago. Jane Pauley reports.
DURING OUR FIRST interview nearly a year ago, we asked her, if she believed in fate. And Lyz Glick had said: “I do.”
Does she believe her husband was fated to be on that plane? “I do, I do,” she said. “I believe Jeremy was meant for a higher purpose.”
Jeremy Glick had postponed a business trip he was not looking forward to, leaving Tuesday instead of Monday. As he boarded the plane he left a message for Lyz, who was sleeping after a night up with their 12-week-old baby.
When he called again, she could see lower Manhattan engulfed in fire and smoke on television. He was looking at a hijacker with what he said was a bomb strapped to his waist.
Lyz Glick: “He said, ‘Lyz, I need to know something. One of the other passengers had talked to their spouse and he had told me, said that they were crashing planes into the World Trade Center,’ and was this true. And I said, ‘You need to be strong, but yes, they are doing that.’”
She didn’t tell him everything she was seeing. As they talked, another plane crashed into the Pentagon. And then the first tower collapsed.
He said one passenger was already dead and the others were plotting to rush the cockpit as a last chance to live or save other lives. While it was unspoken, it was understood, this was goodbye.
Lyz Glick: “We said ‘I love you’ 1,000 times over and over again and it just brought so much peace to us. And he said, ‘I love Emmy,’ who is our daughter, and to take care of her. And then he said, ‘Whatever decisions you make in your life, I need you to be happy and I will respect any decisions that you make.’”
Jane Pauley: “Only 48 hours after. Your strength was incredible.”
Lyz Glick: “Looking back now, I was numb compared to how I feel now. And I guess it was around December that the sense of numbness wore off. But at the same time, I did feel a certain peace about it, you know I think it just carries over to my belief that things happen for a reason and that’s something that has never left me.”
Lyz retreated with her grief, doing no more interviews, even declining an invitation from the White House. She and the baby left New Jersey and didn’t come home for eight weeks.
Lyz Glick: “I actually went down to my parent’s house in South Carolina. You know, to be alone with my family. I spent a lot of time reflecting. But it was also good, because I don’t think I would have been able to feed myself. Or you know, wash my hair, or I wouldn’t have done those things.”
Jane Pauley: “Was there ever a moment when you realized, you knew you were going to be OK?”
Lyz Glick: “I think it was the morning after Jeremy had died. I remember looking down at Emerson, and she was sleeping. And just crying, because she would never know her father. And then, I thought she would only know a sad Mom. And we had wanted her — had trouble having her. Took us 2 1/2 years. And then to have everything taken away, that we had dreams for our family. I remember looking at her, and then something just kind of clicked in my head. And I said, ‘You know, I have a choice. I’m not going to ruin her life. I’m not going to ruin my own life.’”
Jane Pauley: “When did you know you were ready to come back and tackle life by yourself again?”
Lyz Glick: “After Thanksgiving. I just felt I needed to be in my own home.”
Jane Pauley: “Did you have a Thanksgiving?”
Lyz Glick: “I didn’t. I didn’t want to go to Thanksgiving.”
Jane Pauley: “What’d you do?”
Lyz Glick: “I hung out with Emerson. And I had two pieces of pie. One for Jeremy and one for me.”
Jeremy Glick was a big man — a national judo champion in college. Sports are important in his family. But he would have been surprised at the role his little sister, 17-year-old Joanna has played since 9/11. A junior level national figure skater, she has performed in his memory with the Champions on Ice. And she was supposed to be the “shy one.”
His big sister Jennifer started a non-profit, “Jeremy’s Heroes,” to help talented but financially challenged young athletes get top training — and “find their inner heroes” through sports.
And it was a chance to run with the Olympic torch that helped bring Lyz out of her seclusion in December.
Lyz Glick: “I just had tears of joy in my eyes that I could have this opportunity to carry the torch in his honor.”
Lyz Glick: “I feel a certain responsibility not to let him down. You know, he asked that I be happy. And I think that’s the best way that I can honor him. Is to go on with my life.”
Jane Pauley: “How does ‘be happy’ fit in your life now?”
Lyz Glick: “The way I envision it now, I’m always going to be sad, there’s always going to be — it’ll always be there.”
Happy occasions are the hardest. And life is full of them. A Valentine’s Day sweetheart race had been their tradition. But this year, Jeremy wasn’t her partner.
Jane Pauley: “You keep having these milestones. I guess the image in the back of my mind is waves, far out at sea.”
Lyz Glick: “Yes.”
Jane Pauley: “But they’re coming.”
Lyz Glick: “Yes.”
Jane Pauley: “Your wedding anniversary, Jeremy’s birthday. And then September 11.”
Lyz Glick: “Yes.”
Jane Pauley: “Have you learned how to steel yourself for the arrival of these significant challenges? Emotional challenges?”
Lyz Glick : “You know, I try to reserve the day to just Emerson and I. I don’t return phone calls. I don’t answer the phone. I don’t want to talk to anybody. Yesterday was Emerson’s birthday, and it was a particularly hard day for me. Because every hour, I remembered where I was last June 18. So, Emerson was born at 6:18 p.m. You just think back to, I was doing that, or we’d just arrived at the hospital. It was a really beautiful time for us.”
And though she’s small like her mother, Emerson — the name her father gave her, means strength. And she has his eyes.
Jane Pauley: “Does she have his love of life?”
Lyz Glick: “She definitely does. The child does not sleep. You know, I’m just blessed by her. She’s just such a happy, healthy child. And you know — a lot of the times, you know, I just think sometimes that God knew something bad was going to happen to me. Because he gave me the perfect daughter.”
Jane Pauley: “How do you explain to Emmy how full and complete her father’s love for her was? I know as a parent, it was.”
Lyz Glick: “Yes, yes. I think about that a lot. You know I’ve been writing stories in the form of letters. I’ve picked certain characteristics of her father’s life, and what he believed in. Or something that he and her shared. Because it’s remarkable. In 11 weeks they shared, more than some Dads will share with their children in a year or two years. So I’m putting that together for her. And I’ve got a long memory. I’ve known him for 18 years.”
Married only five years, their relationship had a lot of history. It began at the small private school where they met in the 7th grade. It lasted through high school. They met again after college and never looked back. As she said a year ago, though they were young, they’d left nothing unsaid.
Three years ago they found a little cottage on a lake — more her size than his. It was their first house. Now, at 32, it’s likely to be her last.
Jane Pauley: “It must have been a little hard to come back? Can you ever see yourself leaving?”
Lyz Glick: “It was difficult those first few weeks, because everything is a memory. You know I walk in and I go to the laundry and Jer had done a load of laundry before he left. And I take his T-shirts out of the dryer. And what am I going to do with them? Do I fold them? You know? So I folded them. So it was tough. And now I consider myself married to my house. Because I could never imagine selling it. But then I think we had so many dreams for the both of us and for our daughter to grow up in this area.”
DRAWING STRENGTH FROM OTHERS
There are hundreds of other 9/11 widows in the state of New Jersey. The wives of firemen, stock traders, and bankers. Lyz has found support in a group of them nearby, including Lisa Beamer. They have the special bond of Flight 93.
Lyz Glick: “It’s kind of a good place to check in. You know? To know, OK, nobody else in the group has cleaned out their husband’s closets. You know, some people haven’t changed a pillowcase on their bed, so they still have the scent. So it’s good to kind of go in, and see that other people are doing the exact same things that you’re doing.”
Jane Pauley: “What are you doing?”
Lyz Glick: “Well, I don’t sit down to dinner any more. I don’t. I eat something quick. I think dinner, meals, are the hardest. That’s when Jeremy would have been coming home from work, you know around 5 or 6 and we would have said what are we going to do for dinner, cook something.”
Jane Pauley: “It just occurs to me that maybe the sweetest time of the day is when you are retreating inside your head to be with Jeremy.”
Lyz Glick: “Mmm-Hmm.”
Jane Pauley: “That could be a problem.”
Lyz Glick: “Yes. It’s tough. It’s tough, because you know there’s still a bunch of times during the day when something will happen and I’ll want to turn to him and pick up the phone, you know, as if it was yesterday, that he’s still there. Or I figured something out. I found the battery to the camera that we’ve been looking for for three years. And it will appear, and you know, I’m excited to call him and tell him. I do, have an ongoing kind of mental conversation, I think, with him.”
WHAT HAPPENED ON THE PLANE?
It’s been a year since she heard Jeremy’s voice. Their last 26 minutes together are replayed in her mind over and over every day.
Lyz Glick: “When I’m driving in the car, I’m having that conversation in my head. Before I go to sleep, I’m thinking about it. I do think about it a lot. And do think about what his final moments must have been like. You know, and I pray that it was OK.”
The last words Jeremy spoke to her were: “Stay on the line, I’ll be back.” But Lyz couldn’t listen and handed the phone to her father.
When the FBI offered to play cockpit tapes for the families of Flight 93 last spring, she had a second chance.
Jane Pauley: “Why did you want to hear that cockpit voice recorder?”
Lyz Glick: “Because I know everything that happened and it was this last missing piece that I needed to hear. You know, I experienced everything with Jeremy in life. You know, up to those two minutes before his death.”
The tapes suggest the passengers charged the cockpit single file behind a food cart they used as a battering ram and shield.
Lyz Glick: “It was unbelievable. It was — terrible sounds that were coming through. There’s no doubt in my mind they were in the cockpit. The voices, the screaming was very loud. But there was also the sound of the wind because the plane was going in excess of 500 miles an hour. And then the last, I would say, 90 seconds, I chose not to listen to, because it was too horrendous. I knew the tape would end and that would be the minute that Jeremy died.”
How many people lived because Flight 93 never reached its intended target — probably the White House? Forty people had the courage to fight back. It was one of the most redeeming moments in a deeply sorrowful time.
Lyz Glick: “The first part of our conversation when we were talking about more personal things that we needed to say for one another, that seems like it lasted forever. It was just so much strength coming out of both of us together.”
Jane Pauley: “We felt helpless. And there you were telling a story about your husband that was heroic and looking inspirational yourself. That was incredibly important. Do you understand that now?”
Lyz Glick: “I think it’s difficult for me to understand because Jeremy is so personal to me. That’s not who I think of who he was. Of what happened on September 11, it embodies his character in so many ways, that’s the way he lived his life.”
Sometime in college Jeremy came across a passage by Ralph Waldo Emerson, Emmy’s namesake, which Lyz found tucked away in his things.
Lyz Glick: “To laugh often and much, to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children.”
As commencement speaker last June at the small school where they met 20 years ago, he might have chosen the words, but she spoke them.
Lyz Glick: “To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition. To know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived, this is to have succeeded.”
The Glick family says that when Emmy gets a little older, they hope she’ll be able to find her “inner hero” by working with the foundation set up in her father’s memory. “Jeremy’s Heroes” has already provided dozens of young inner-city athletes with basketball and soccer training and equipment.