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Messages From Loved Ones Lost On 9-11: Bonnie McEneany

Bonnie McEneany, the widow of a 9/11 victim, opens up about the spiritual experiences she’s had since her husband’s death.


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Before 9/11, I was a corporate executive. I was raised a Christian and I am a Christian. But I have to say I really was somewhat skeptical about the notion of more than this—life after death. 

My name is Bonnie McEneaney and this is my new book, “Messages, Signs, Visits and Premonitions from Loved Ones Lost on 9/11.” 

[music playing] 

I met my husband at Cornell University when I went up there for my first year of graduate studies. He was an incredible guy. He was very altruistic; he would have given you the shirt off his back. He truly loved the men that he worked with on the 105th floor of the North Tower. 

Our last major conversation was on September 9th. We were watching the World War II miniseries Band of Brothers. It was the premiere episode. And then he said, “I want you to know that I’m prepared for my death and I can handle it now.” And that precipitated a very emotional exchange between the two of us. 

I didn’t think he was having premonitions, I thought he was falling into some clinical depression. And I didn’t realize that he truly had a sense of foreboding that he knew he was going to die. I mean that’s the long and the short of it. And I’ve had years now to reflect on all of that. Can’t explain it. 

I do know that many other people also—which is what I came to learn—had a similar kind of sense of something. Their personalities were changing, they were becoming very low, they were taking out life insurance, they were taking care of loose ends. 

It was the morning of September 13, and there were many, many wonderful people still in my house making phone calls, making lists of next steps so that we could turn over every stone. And I became extremely frustrated with just no answers. And I was distraught of course, and my kids—I have four little kids. 

I went out my front door. And I don’t know what possessed me, but I just yelled out as loud as I could. It was almost as if it was someone else’s voice, “Eamon, just tell us where you are.” And I thought, “This is ridiculous.”

It was a very still day. Not a breeze, nothing. Just still and dry. And within about 15 to 20 seconds, I heard a rustling sound above in one of the trees that frames the entrance to my driveway. And I looked up and I saw the branches start to sway. And then all of a sudden this wind emerged from the tree and came around like a river in a way, and undulated around other trees in my front yard and blew them. 

And the way I describe it—this river of wind—it came and I was wearing a skirt. It sort of whimsically lifted my skirt and let it fall and then it stopped. 

And I stood there and there was no more breeze. No more wind. Nothing was blowing. Leaves were all status quo. And then I realized that it was the answer to the question that I had asked. And I certainly don’t know was it my husband, was it God, was it some other spiritual force? I don’t know, of course. 

There was no identity associated with it, but I did know it was confirming that he was gone. I’d had already heard a number of the spiritual stories other people had had because I knew so many people. We were talking together. People had signs from their loved ones that were unmistakably their loved one communicating to them. Many people had visitations—after-death visitations. 

The long and the short of it though, is that the degree to which the emotional healing and growth of the people who are traumatized has been helped by these experiences, to me, is what faith is all about. 

February of 2002. It was an extremely cold day in New England, and I was at a small 9/11 family meeting that was going on in a neighboring town. And I had been there for about a half hour and there was a knock at the door. And I was closest to the door so I got up and I opened it. 

And standing there—I’ll never forget what I saw—was one of the heads of our local police department and my pastor. And one of them—I don’t know which one—whispered, “They found your husband’s remains in downtown Manhattan.” 

And the minister said, “I’m going to drive you home.” We bundled up, went outside, got in the cars. We start to drive. And I was just sort of not thinking about anything except this and just not aware of anything going on around me. And suddenly when I became more alert, I realized that we were in my town and he was taking this right-hand turn. 

And I saw that he was going into our local cemetery. And I thought, “What’s he doing?” 

So I said, “What are you doing?” 

And he said, “You’re going to have to start thinking about this now. You going to have to start thinking about what you’re going to do with the remains. This is a beautiful cemetery, I just want you to see it.” 

Now, a little bit of background before I tell you what happened. My dad, when he was alive, had a home in Florida on the water. And every morning this great blue heron would parade around in front by the water’s edge. And they developed a sort of friendship, if you will. 

One Christmas, Eamon and I—my husband and I—bought him a glass replica of the heron, and it really became this point of connection between the three of us. 

So fast-forward to February. We’re just going into the cemetery. Piles of snow on either side of the car. This chill in the air. And off from my peripheral vision, I see this shadow. And I look up and this giant wingspan, and this bird lands in front of our car. And I realized that—I was just—I mean, I can’t even explain the emotion. It was a great blue heron. 

Clearly, it was a spiritual sign of comfort of some sort. And again, was it God? Was it my husband? Was it something else? I don’t know. But I know what it was intended to do, it was intended to give me a message of comfort and support. 

Because I was starting to hear more and more of these stories, I thought, “You know what, these stories, again, have been so helpful to people. These signs of an afterlife, the connection with the loved one even after they pass.” 

And I thought about that. And I thought, “You know, when a person has a true spiritual experience they are allowed now to look at the situation they’re in from a different perspective.” And it was a very healthy, healthy transition for those that I sort of observed, including myself. 

And so I thought, “I’m going to collect these stories and I’m going to try to write a book and put them together. “

Just so encouraging. I don’t think people should be afraid to talk about it, it’s OK. It’s a wonderful thing. Especially if it’s helped you get through whatever circumstances you’ve been confronted with.

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