In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Whoa!.” (What’s the most surreal experience you’ve ever had?)
So, for weeks, I’ve been meaning to write about A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner, one of the books I’ve read to meet my reading goal for the year. This prompt reminded me that I have been procrastinating this post. Why? Because the most surreal experience I’ve ever had was Sept. 11, 2001. I was working at the upper end of Manhattan at the time, just about 7 miles north of the World Trade Center. I had a perfect view of the towers from my office. I was always there very early and was so that day enjoying the perfect weather. As reports started coming in of what was happening, we looked out the window and could see the smoke coming from the buildings. We went back to our desks to call friends and family who we knew were downtown and then go back to the window to see first one and then two towers missing. As the day went on and I got myself home to my apartment in another part of Manhattan, the day became less surreal and more real and nightmarish.
How does all of this relate to the book? Well, it takes place in two distinct time periods: in 1911 and 2011. It beautifully weaves together two love stories, one of a women deeply affected by 9/11 and one during the height of Ellis Island. The descriptions of 9/11 transported me right back to that day and the days and weeks after. The smells in the air that lingered, the articles in newspapers and magazines.
One of my favorite quotes from the book: “The person who completes your life is not so much the person who shares all the years of your existence, but rather the person who made your life worth living, no matter how long or short a time you were given to spend with them.”