Upper west side mother of three
The front door of Emily Terry's upper West Side apartment is decorated with exuberant pictures drawn by her three young children, proclaiming this EMILY'S FAMOUS BREAKFAST RESTAURANT, home of EMILY'S FAMOUS OATMEAL, and announcing WE'RE JEWISH.
Emily Terry isn't, in fact, Jewish -- she grew up as a Presbyterian on the Upper East Side -- but she and her husband, Andrew Kates, a senior managing director at Cantor Fitzgerald, agreed to raise their children in his religion. Their oldest children, Hannah, 6, and Lucy, 4, are enrolled at the Rodeph Sholom congregation's school (their youngest child, Henry, is 23 months old). This decision has had enormous repercussions for her this past year.
"I've been enveloped by this community," she marvels. "I just felt like people were taking care of me. I felt like they wouldn't let me fall, wouldn't let me collapse." Congregation members virtually lived with her during the first few months. Suzanne Waltman, a friend and fellow Rodeph parent, says, "People at Rodeph really understood the workload of three children."
At night, the kids often talk about their dad, and when they go to bed at 8 p.m., Terry often falls asleep in their room. "I feel incredibly sad for them," she says. "My son was 11 months when it happened, and yet when he sees a picture of Andy, he says, 'Dad.' Henry saw someone recently from the back who looked like Andy, and he got so excited." She pauses to compose herself. "It sounds so goofy, but on September 11, Henry walked across the living-room floor for the first time." Before the towers collapsed? "Nope."
On that morning, she stood at the window of their apartment, overlooking Columbus Avenue, and watched her husband play out his usual morning streetside performance for the family. "He'd do a crazy dance or walk in a funny way and people would stare at him, and the kids would be hysterical. The last time I saw him, he was popping out behind that newsstand. It's a happy moment." A short while later, her phone rang: "Andy called, and all he said was, 'A plane hit the building, it's on fire, and I love you.' " His body was found two days later.
A patrician blonde who looks elegant even in khakis and a T-shirt, Terry, 39, a native New Yorker who attended Chapin and then Haverford, met her future husband in Boston in 1985. She attended Boston University, earning a master's degree in art history; Andy went through Harvard's M.B.A. program. She left a job at the International Center of Photography after her first child, Hannah, was born. Even though Andy was in a fast-track job at Cantor, they didn't live in Master of the Universe style: Their apartment is a two-bedroom rental (the three kids sleep in one room), and they vacationed every year in relatively inexpensive Lake Champlain.
Describing the past year, she can chart her emotional temperature season by season. In November, she took up her husband's passion, running in Central Park. "What I like about running around the reservoir now is that it's a way of being with people -- everyone makes eye contact -- without having to talk." This summer, she felt able to do other feel-good things, such as visit the Frick Museum and use a gift certificate for a facial.
Terry is seeing a psychiatrist and has intensely bonded with the other members of her widows' support group. "I have never thought so much in my entire life," says Terry. "Everything requires it. I have to decide what I'm going to put on Andy's headstone. That's in the category of things you never thought you'd deal with at age 39."
She finds herself clinging to the unexpectedly kind gestures. She got a visit from an ironworker who found one of Andy's credit cards at ground zero. "The guy tracked me down, and his wife called to say he had made something for us from metal from the World Trade Center." Walking over to the fireplace, she shows off a small cross on the mantel. "I was worried when the man saw my daughter's sign on our door -- WE'RE JEWISH -- that he'd be embarrassed about bringing us a cross. I thought it was really touching."
She's never been to ground zero -- the place haunts her. "I keep coming to this image of this huge hole, which is what it feels like," she says. "Sometimes I'm inside the hole, and sometimes I'm standing at the edge of the hole. But I'm never away from the hole, I'm always near it."