How Do You Say Goodbye?

I didn’t really believe a 10-year anniversary would mean much to me.

However, as I should know already, most of the time I am completely confused and utterly dumbfounded by what affects me and what doesn’t.

September 11th, 2001 happened 10 years ago, making me 35 years old.

In great thanks to my cousin Penn Holderness and incredible teachers at Tarboro High School, Matt and April Smith, I have found some time to mourn and express some great sadness that needed to be expelled.

Brilliant and loving teachers at Tarboro High School, Matt & April invited me to speak about 9/11 (as it is so often referred) during 4th period today.  It is extremely difficult to talk about because I never want my words to be anything but humble and reverent.

These were my words:

My name is Inie Ribustello, and I graduated from Tarboro High in 1994.  I moved to New York four years later.

After culinary school, I found a job on the top floor of One World Trade Center.  It was the job of a lifetime, and my plan was to stay there forever.

When I was 25, my world changed in every way, shape and form.

I lost my job, I lost any sense of security I had ever felt and I lost 85 friends who I had seen everyday for the past three years.

Imagine this:  you go to school on Monday and you see all of your teachers, your fellow students, the principal and the custodian and coaches, everyone you come into contact with on a day-to-day basis.

Let’s say that the next day you stay at home because you don’t feel well, or maybe you skip school with a friend or maybe you’re on vacation with your family.  For whatever reason, you just don’t come to school.

While you’re not there, something terrible occurs.  Actually, the unthinkable happens, and everyone who came to school that day is either killed or unable to be found.

That is the cruel reality of September 11th, 2001.

My work, my friends, my life was on the 106th floor of One World Trade Center.

While I was in Tarboro for my sister’s wedding, I saw it all crumble on national television, never to be seen, touched or heard again.

Did I ever believe in one million years that my life would be affected by terrorists?


But it was.  It was affected and then re-affected and ten years later, it continues to affect everything about me.

I will never ever forget what happened, and because of 9/11, I have an entirely new definition of what forever really means.

My cousin Penn gave me the opportunity to speak about the events that encompassed that horrible morning, and for that, I am forever grateful.  He conducts a beautiful interview in the following:


When I think about September 11th, 2001, I don’t cry as many tears as I used to.

Instead, I am more saddened by the day-to-day events occurring right now in our present world.  My emotions run deeper than they once did 10 years ago, and my heart hurts a little more than the last time I rode up the elevator to the 107th floor.

Tears may not come as quickly when that tragic day is mentioned, but they do fall more freely for good-byes that weren’t supposed to be just now.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Gerard Molloy

    Well said Inez!!!!!

  • Betty Perrin NeSmith

    Beautiful, Inie.
    Thank you.

  • Jane Thorne

    Being able to cry is a gift so many never experience. Hurting, healing, cleansing – tears are indeed a blessing. I am glad you are my friend. Love!

  • Shirley

    So touching!

  • nancy robbins

    and your healing will continue here among friends! THANK YOU FOR SHARING..nancy robbins

  • Linda Tharrington Goines

    Such amazing grace has grown from the most horrible tragedy; your love, hope, faith, and strength in God and our Lord, Jesus, is evident in your eyes, smile, and tears. Thank you for sharing. Your church family has always, and will always, continue to love you!!

  • sue outlaw

    Inie, you will always be Inie to me, I think all of us are more humbled by the losses that occurred during our lifetime, some more horrendous than others, and the least we can do is pray for those who left this earth way too early and of no fault of their own and mourn and cry as need be to heal and cleanse our hearts and souls. Indeed you and Stephen were greatly blessed by not being at work that terrible day and now our town is blessed to have both of you and your children here doing what you love to do and bringing joy to all of us. May God continue to bless your family and may you continue to find peace. Much love.

  • Jeannine

    I have been thinking of you all week, my heart breaks for your loss of friends and at the same time I am so thankful that you escaped pyhsical harm. Everyday is a gift, I am trying to remember that myself instead of taking lifes blessings for granted.

    We Love you,
    All the Saunders

  • McRae

    Thank you for sharing this – it can’t be easy to do.

  • Jeanette Summerlin


    I did not know this… My heart goes out to you & all your friends family. I am thankful you were here in Tarboro and now we have the chance to have your sweet little ones at Princeville everyday.


  • Clare Lancaster

    I have been thinking about you and Stephen constantly these last few days. You have both endured so much and have come out on the other side beautiful, kind and loving people. You have a wonderful family that is a pleasure to be with. There were many ways you could have handled what you have endured and you both have chosen to use it to help make you even better people. That is why everyone loves both of you.

  • Lillian James Smith

    Percy and I thought of you early this morning as the anniversary of 9/11 dawned. We grieve for your loss of friends and we pray that today and the days ahead, you will feel God’s Presence, His Love, and His Comfort. Your Aunt Cynthia is my nyeighbor and she loves you dearly and I feel as though I know you well through her love for you. You will icontinue to be in our hearts. May you feel God’s Peace in your life.

  • You and Stephen have been in my thoughts and prayers over the past week. May God grant you peace.

  • Cathy Marshall

    Thank you for sharing with all of us….I have found that getting it all out helps tremendously even if it is on paper…you are a brave lady.
    My heart aches for you for the many friends that you lost that day. May God hug you a little tighter as you think about those days and remember all your great friendships….

  • Frances Liverman


    Thank you for sharing this, I am hearing some of this for the first time. I have not ask many questions because I know how painfully it must be. When there is something bad most of the time God makes something good out of it. I am so blessed you came my way after this happened. Tarboro is so blessed to have you and Stephen here. You both share so much with so many people. I can see God working in you each day. Most of all I am so blessed that you allow
    me to be your friend. My prayers are with you, Stephen and all your friend’s families. I love you and your family.

  • Rebecca (Becky) Ferrell

    Zelle forwarded your blog address to me which I forwarded to my children, Rebecca and Harris. I read every word with gratitude that both your and Stephen’s lives were spared. Thank you for sharing your memories and your feelings about this unthinkable event that seems to have changed everyone in one way or another.
    As you know, I grew up in Tarboro and enjoyed having dinner at On The Square this summer on the way from Baltimore to the beach in NC.
    Becky Ferrell