American Widow by Alissa Torres

How did I cope when my world turned upside down?  I used to find solutions to all my problems at the bookstore.  Ever since I started reading, books always saved me. They took me out of my circumstances, gave me answers with advice or by example for whatever ailed me.  But after my husband Eddie died at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, nothing was the same.

Waddling down the self-help aisle, newly widowed and 7-1/2 months pregnant, I was unable to find anything to ease my pain and offer me guidance.  Specifically, I wanted to know what was this grief that now filled me?  And what was this life I was now leading, so debilitated by this grief?

But even if I had found what I needed during that awful fall of 2001, I wouldn’t have been able to read it.  In those days, I couldn’t focus: my mind was too scattered and busy trying to comprehend my tragic personal circumstances within such an enormous public trauma.  It took me a month before I could read more than a couple sentences, and many more before I could get through an entire book. (more…)

American Widow by Alissa Torres; Illustrated by Sungyoon Choi

by Alissa Torres, author of American Widow

American Widow is the book I wrote because I couldn’t talk about my husband, Eddie Torres, dying at the World Trade Center.  I was mute as the whole world talked about the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.

In the earliest post-9/11 days, I filled spiral bound notebooks with repetitive outpourings and memories.  By January 2002, I wrote my first personal essay, one of many published on salon.com.  I crafted them late into the night while my infant son slept, documenting my surreal existence so close to the center of something so big and so sad.  By the summer of 2002, I started writing the script for American Widow, my graphic novel memoir.  It had to be a graphic novel because my story was one of pictures, the collision of two sets — those of the towers burning and those of my husband smiling. (more…)