Amy Lamonsoff

By Wendy Mceneany, sister

Amy Lamonsoff memorial plaque
Photo: Alex Towle

What was most special about Amy?

She was very free-spirited and very open. When she walked into a room, she lit it up. Her smile lit it up because she had beautiful dimples, which my daughter has. You could just feel it—she had that force and that presence. 

How do you look back on that tragic day now?

I know it’s been 20 years, but it’s always yesterday for me. And it has felt that way every day for the last 20 years. It was a shock to us because Amy had never been to Windows on the World [in the North Tower of the World Trade Center]. Neither of us had, even though we’re native New Yorkers. She was there because she was a corporate events planner and planned the event.

So as a family, we didn’t know that she was there. I just knew that her office was a few blocks away. As I’m watching this—because I’m at work—the other planes were taken down and phone lines were going out, and then once they announced that they were evacuating Lower Manhattan, you just started getting a feeling. 

I had to get home. I wanted to hear from my sister and make sure everybody was okay. I was driving home and watching all the ambulances and helicopters going into Manhattan—I was about 30 miles out from where I was working on Long Island—and I get home and we had spotty phone service. I remember calling and leaving her a message saying, ‘Hey, when you guys get back, please give me a call.’ I was watching the TV because she lived just on the other side of the Brooklyn Bridge and something just didn’t feel right. 

It’s weird when I look back on it—I was worried because her office was so close, with the debris and the chaos that happened afterward. So I was watching TV and I don’t see her and I’m starting to get really, really anxious. I started calling my dad and that’s when I found out that she happened to be in the building and I remember collapsing; I know I hit the floor.

Today, what immediately comes to mind when Amy pops into your head?

How much she didn’t get to do, and how short her life was. And the good she would have been doing, especially in these times. I feel for that. She was very political, very involved. She would be knocking door-to-door to register people to vote. She would be marching on Washington. She was very much that kind of person.

And she loved her job. She had friends in London—she made friends with them and visited them. And when we had her memorial, they came out for it.

What are some of the stories you tell your children about their Aunt Amy?

My daughter, Alix Kate, was two-and-a-half years old, so she does have memories of her aunt. But every time my daughter twirls her hair, that’s my sister; my sister was a hair-twirler. Every time my daughter smiles, she really resembles my sister. She always did. When she was born everybody said, ‘Oh my God, she looks just like Amy!’ We also named my son Austin after Amy: A for Amy; A for Austin. He was due to be born on September 18, 2002, but he couldn’t wait to make his debut, and he was born August 28. Just in time for us to mark the one-year anniversary.

It’s always a topic that’s open to talk about. I never want anybody to think you can’t talk about her. People say, ‘Never forget’. Well, I always want her to be alive in my children’s minds.

What are some memories of yours from when you two were growing up?

I am five years older than her and we both loved the Beatles. I remember that we had Beatles posters all over our walls. Of course, there were funny and wonderful things that we did when we were kids, but something that hit me was when I had to tell her that John Lennon was shot dead, she was so young and the devastation—she was very, very smart and always had so much sympathy and compassion. She was very bright. 

That specifically, I remember, ‘Oh my gosh, I have to go in here and tell her this happened.’ It’s not a fun memory. It’s just one of those things where you have to spring this on a little kid, knowing what her reaction would be. 

But I also remember taking her to see Duran Duran. I took her and her friend and it was the best day of their lives. And then I took her to see Power Station, as well, and that was fun. If she wanted to go to any concert, I’d take her to anything she wanted to go see, but Duran Duran was a big one for her. She was big into music.

Who was there to help you manage your grief?

Outside of my own family, my neighbors were phenomenal. I remember in the first two years, I would get cards from a Brownie troop. People who I had no idea who they were, they were making things and sending things. I have an afghan blanket that was hand crocheted with hand-written tags over each square with victims’ names on it. It meant a lot. It was total strangers just reaching out to you and it really did mean a lot. 

If you would like to view all the articles in our 9/11 commemoration, click here

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