How many ways are there to say "Daddy, you are always in my heart, but I need you, and I miss you"?
My father, John D. Yamnicky, Sr. was on Flight 77 that crashed into the Pentagon. I relive that morning and that day over and over and over again, and I get sick with the memories. They never go away.
My father and I worked in the same building, on the same floor. I go to work and cry and feel sick inside, because I know that never again will I see him smiling at me in the hallway. I feel so lost sometimes, because there are so many times that I want to run up to him, or call him and say "Guess What???" That time will never come again. I look at my young children, and cry yet again, knowing that my father will never see them grow up. I cry knowing how much he loved them, and how very proud he was of his grandchildren.
When I cry, my children hug me and say, "you miss him, don’t you?" because they know. Then they say, "God bless Granddaddy," and "Mommy don’t cry, because he is in heaven with God." That makes me remember when my son and daughter were little, how they would climb all over my father. He was so big, and they were so tiny. He was so proud of them.
Over the past year, I have battled with many emotions -- anger, pain and grief. I spend a lot of time wondering how there could be such evil in the world, and how could anyone, anyone, have been so cruel. I spend a lot of sleepless nights wondering what his last moments were like, what he might have been thinking about. Deep down inside, I know my father would have been comforting someone else.
I also spend a lot of time feeling selfish, because I know there are so many others who have lost spouses, children and siblings, couples who were just beginning their lives together.
My father was a retired U.S. Navy captain and former fighter pilot. He was a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, flew multiple combat missions and later became the director of the Test Pilot School. I go crazy sometimes thinking that my beloved father, who spent his entire life fighting terrorism and evil, could have come to his end at the hands of people he spent his life trying to protect the rest of us against.
I wonder why, for the first time, he didn’t tell me that he was going to be travelling. Then I wonder if God knew. The weekend before my father was killed, my parents stopped by unexpectedly. My mom said, "Well, Daddy wanted to see the grandchildren." I remember the frantic phone calls after the plane crashed as if it were this morning, and the answers that I never got.
This is what life has been like. I feel guilty when I’m happy about something. I hear songs that my father loved and would sing to me, and then I laugh, and then I cry. This is it. I count my blessings that my siblings, my parents and I were always a close family. I can’t even say that we’ve come closer together since the tragedy because we were one of the families that were blessed with each other.
My father was a loved and respected man and would never want us to suffer. But somehow, that doesn’t count much when you are devastated. I look at my mom, my siblings, my husband, my children, my in-laws, my friends, and all of the other wonderful friends that our family has, and I know that they suffer too. A loss such as this should never have even been a thought in our minds, much less the senseless tragedy that it was. I have spent hours crying on the phone with my family and friends – then feel guilty because I am so selfish with my own pain.
I remember so many things about my father -- how he loved wine and spicy foods and garlic, and the fat on the steak. I remember how much we loved to go to my parents house because Daddy was grilling "ribs!" He was the best in that field. I can’t even eat a barbequed rib now without thinking of how much he would have loved it. Daddy was our drinking buddy too. He sure did appreciate a good beer. I can’t count the nights that we all sat over there with all of our friends and ate and drank and talked, and loved it. There are so many good memories…. and they never should have ended.
My father was a man that commanded love and respect from all avenues. He could talk to anyone and make them feel as if they were the only person in the world. The best part about him was that he really meant it. He exuded love and confidence, and everyone loved him for it. I can’t begin to tell you the number of people who wrote and said "if it weren’t for John…" and I knew precisely what they meant. I just had no idea how many lives he touched. It was completely overwhelming.
Tragedies have happened over the years, and so many people have said "if I only knew…" I can say without a doubt that my dad knew completely how much we all loved him. I never got off the phone or left him without saying "I love you Daddy." I always wonder if he had the chance to think of that on Sept.11. That thought never goes away.
The one absolutely wonderful thing about my father was that he was so proud of all of us and it showed in everything he did and said. I feel for those people who were never close, for whatever reason, with their parents, their families. I know I should be thankful for what I had, and I truly am, but it doesn’t take away the grief and pain that I feel today, and every day, when I remember yet again.