Editor’s Note: The essay below was written in 2001 and appears in the self-published book, Through Our Eyes: A Tapestry of Words and Images in Response to September 11. Printed and distributed in 2002, the book was the result of an independent, volunteer documentary project organized by a journalist and several friends. The author’s bio was written in 2002 and has not been updated.
LIZ & STEPHEN ALDERMAN
Armonk, New York
For Elizabeth Alderman, Sept. 11 marked the day the sunshine was stolen from her life. Her youngest child, Peter, worked for Michael Bloomberg and was attending a conference at the World Trade Center – in the Windows on the World restaurant – on that tragic day. He was one of the thousands of victims who didn’t escape the burning towers. Liz, 60, was born in Brooklyn and today lives in Armonk, New York, with her husband, Stephen. Surviving Peter is his sister, Jane, who lives in Washinton, D.C., and brother, Jeffrey, who lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma, with his wife, Tobey, and their 4-month-old daughter, Abbey.
Just days before his death, Peter had been visiting his parents overseas. To celebrate her husband’s 60th birthday, Liz had rented a house in Provence, France. Peter, Jeff, Jane and Tobey had come for the first week and had returned Sept. 8. On Sept. 11, as Liz describes, “We were in Roussillon, France, with good friends who had joined us for the second week when we learned of the nightmare that we are living with and will live with forever. Because of the halt on all air traffic, we were stuck in France and were unable to return home until Friday, Sept. 14. Michael Bloomberg sent his private plane for us and we returned as soon as it had clearance to fly.” Liz and Stephen submitted the following on March 12.
Our son Peter was only 25 years old, standing on the threshold of a bright and promising life. Suicidal terrorists stole his future. That his future would have been glorious was guaranteed by his history.
The youngest of three children, Peter was the sunshine in our family. His light brought joy to all of us. He used his warm and generous spirit to illuminate our lives with his love. Peter’s laughter sparkled. It was contagious. Our home was a happy place.
Peter literally had hundreds of friends. People gravitated toward him. He was bright, he was witty, and he knew how to have a good time. But most importantly, Peter cared deeply for his friends. Everyone believed that they had a special connection to him. Eight days after Peter died, we held a party for his friends at our home. More than two hundred friends came from all over the United States … many of whom he had known since kindergarten. We celebrated Peter’s life, toasting him with champagne and beer (his preferred drinks), eating his favorite foods, and telling Pete stories. We laughed and cried and no one seemed able to leave. The celebration began at one p.m. and was still going strong at five a.m.
We knew that Peter enjoyed his job at Bloomberg LP but had never considered how he was regarded at work. We should have known. Not only was he responsible, but also people at all levels looked to Peter for support. He took his time to solve their problems … helping them to learn new techniques, get through training programs and even find new apartments. His superiors expected great things from him. Taking his job very seriously, Peter arrived early for the Risk Waters conference at Windows on the World on September 11, 2001.
We shall never recover from the loss of our son. It is almost impossible to live in a world where Peter does not exist. We cannot bear that he will never have the opportunity to live his life.