For the last few years, I have participated in the 2996 project as a way of celebrating the lives of the men, women and children who lost their lives in the 9/11 tragedy.
The goal of the 2996 project has changed over the years:
Starting now, my focus is to make sure that each name on the list has at least one tribute still active on the web. I’m going through past lists to try and find people who no longer have a tribute posted, and I’ll assign those names to new volunteers.When I first learned of the 2996 Project I knew that I wanted to be a part of that in some way. I only asked God that I have something in common with the person they chose for me to give tribute to, so that I would be able to justice to their memory. I was delighted then to find out about the lady I was assigned to, Mrs. Colleen Ann Deloughery.
It turns out that we did indeed have much in common. She was also a mother of two children, Amanda and Michael, ages 5 and 9 at the time. She was also happily married. Colleen had one sister and five brothers and lots of in-laws, cousins and friends. Colleen was 41 when she died.
What really drew me to Colleen was that she had achieved one of my lifetime goals- she had actually built a swimming pool in her backyard! Colleen and her family did not have a big yard. In fact the pool took up most of it. But I don't think that was a problem for Colleen. She knew that with a pool came people, and Colleen apparently was a real people person. She loved the cookouts and the fellowship that happened around her pool. She loved to be surrounded by the friends and family that she loved and the pool was a good excuse to have every one over.
Colleen loved her family and her home, but she also loved her job in the World Trade Towers. Colleen worked on the 99th floor of
I found an article online about Colleen and I loved how her sister talked about her.
Mrs. Deloughery was described by her younger sister, Patricia Marrese of
"When she entered a room, you knew she was there," she said.
As kids, her sister remembered the stray animals she would bring home; once pulling all her clothes out of her drawers for a pregnant cat she had taken in.
"She was very comfortable saying to people, 'I love you.' " she said. "I would tease her over it, but you knew that she meant it."
"She could look away from a mess. The time she spent with her kids was special to her," she said.
The backyard of her home was small, but was always filled with family and friends, she added.
"She wanted a pool and it filled the yard, but there was always room for people," she said. "I called it the magic yard that kept growing. You never worried about knocking on her door."
I also had the honor to e-mail with Colleen's aunt, Tara Henry. These are her recollections of her niece.
Colleen was a wonderful person. She was my niece by marriage, and also my friend. We had a special bond, because we both came into the family at the same time and she was only a few years older than me. She had a wonderful heart and a smile for everyone. She loved her children very much, and her husband was her soul mate. They dated in HS and then lost touch. They married years later after they met again. I remember Colleen's wedding. She was the most beautiful bride I had ever seen. If I had to describe how she looked I could do it in one word.....elegant. She was lovely, inside and out.
We had alot of fun together. One of my favorite things to do was go down to the family "bungalow" on the Jersey shore and hang out with Colleen and Jay and the rest of the family. We would play cards till all hours of the night, and laugh ourselves silly. Colleen was always telling everyone how much she loved them. She said it to me so many times.....I wish I had said it back everytime. I miss Colleen terribly, but I know that my pain isn't even close to the pain her husband and children feel. Her son was only 5 on 9/11, and her daughter was 9. They have a very long life ahead of them without their mom.
Colleen always said "there is no such thing as a stranger, they are just friends we haven't met yet". That has become my motto in my life. Colleens death has inspired me to live my life the way she led hers. I have missed her everyday for the past 5 years, and I will continue to miss her everyday for the rest of my life.
Colleen Ann Deloughery was a special lady. I wish I had had the opportunity to know her.
You can read more about her here, here and here. You can sign her guest book here.
Colleen's square on the 9/11 quilt
Colleen's memorial on Flickr.
May she rest in peace.