real life

A September 11 widow recalls her final phone conversation with her husband of 36 years.

Sean Rooney kissed his wife goodbye and left for work. It was like any other day, except the date on the calendar would soon become synonymous with tragedy; a date that changed the world.

It was September 11, 2001, and Sean’s office was in the south tower of the World Trade Centre.

At around 9:30 that morning, Sean phoned his wife Beverly Eckert. After 36 years together, it would be the final time they ever spoke.

In a video shared by Upworthy, Beverly recounted that last phone call with the love of her life, the guy with the “warm brown eyes and dark curly hair” she’d met at a high school dance when they were just 16.

beverly eckert september 11

Beverly holds a photo of her late husband Sean Rooney. Image: Getty.

"He told me he was on the 105th floor and he'd been trying to find a way out," she said. "He told me that he hadn't had any success."

As his option began to dwindle, and as the stairwell filled with thick plumes of smoke, Beverly asked him if it hurt to breathe.


"He paused for a moment and said, 'No'. He loved me enough to lie," she said.

"We stopped talking about escape routes and then we began talking about the happiness we shared during our lives together.

"As the smoke got thicker, he just kept whispering, 'I love you, I love you, I love you', over and over. I just wanted to crawl through the phone lines, to hold him one last time."

The last thing Beverly heard was a loud crack, followed by an "avalanche". The tower had collapsed, and in a matter of moments her husband was gone.

"I called his name into the phone, over and over," she said. "Then I just sat there, pressing the phone to my heart."

Beverly didn't want to sleep that night. Already living a lucid nightmare, the thought of sleep mean distance from the man she loved.

"As long as I was awake, it was still a day I'd spent with Sean," she said. "He kissed me goodbye before leaving for work, and I could still say, 'That was just a little while ago, that was only this morning'."

In the years since that earth-shattering morning, Beverly became a vocal advocate for victims of the tragedy, pushing for a 9/11 committee and the creation of a memorial.

"I just think of myself as living life for both of us now, and I like to think Sean would be proud of me," she said.

Tragically, though, Beverly only outlived her beloved husband by eight years. She was one of the 49 passengers on board Continental Flight 3407 when it stalled mid-air, plummeting into homes in Clarence Center, New York.

Beverly had been on her way to Buffalo to celebrate Sean's birthday.

The story of Sean's death was among the many legacies she left, and one that reminds us all why, even 15 years on, it's important we never forget.

Listen to Beverly's raw recount of that day below:

Featured image via Getty.

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