(WGHP) — “It seemed so far away, then. And now, it seems like yesterday that it happened,” said Heidi Hochwarth.
She’s standing over a brick outside Greensboro’s Fire Station One. Below her is a brick she and her two children dedicated to her brother-in-law, Kenny Marino, whom they were all very close to.
Kenny was a firefighter for New York City’s elite Rescue One unit. He died on 9/11, trying to get people out of the north tower.
For the Hochwarths, who spend so many vacations together with the Marinos, who had two children roughly the same age – first a girl, then a boy, in each case – it’s a place to grieve.
“We don’t have a grave. We don’t have a place to go to,” Heidi said. “This is as close to a grave as we have.”
For Heidi, as with so many Americans, the suddenness of the tragedy is still hard to deal with.
“I didn’t know I wasn’t going to have a brother-in-law, the next day,” she said. “And I have a son who is 21 and flies at night by himself. He’s doing great, but how do I not worry about him?”
And the relationship with her brother-in-law that was severed so quickly is hard to close.
“Before falling asleep, I would have conversations with him. And tell him I’m trying to look after her and make sure she’s okay, and the kids. And I know he’s so proud of them,” Heidi said.
Those Marino children are now grown but there is still a raw wound for all of the family left behind.
“There’s been no justice for this,” Heidi said. “We say that all the time: Never forget. And I always say, ‘Always remember,’ because I won’t forget.
And there will always be that lesson.
“I know that you can lose people in a minute. So, I try to stay close to the people who matter to me and not take them for granted,” Heidi said.
See what the Marino children look like now and the big-time celebrity who befriended them after their father’s death in this edition of the Buckley Report.