Widow Grieves with Smiles and Laughter
Don't wear black.
Tell silly jokes. Drink champagne, Laugh.
Mark Ludvigsen would love that.
For one family yeaterday marked a turning point. So many relatives and friends of the thousands lost in the World Trade Center still cling to the dim hope that their loved ones will walk out of the rubble.
But Maureen Kelly, a buoyant, 29 year old redhead, has toured ground zero. She knows her husband, who was just 32, is not coming home.
"I feel lucky," Maureen told me. Lucky?
"This summer, Mark and I talked about our funerals.
"I always figured I would go first, I said,'Mark, I want a bg party. I want everyone to drink a lot of Veuve Clicquot and tell stupid jokes about me.'
Several hundred close friends and relatives, from Chicago and Tennesse, London,streamed into the New York Athletic Club on Central Park South to celebrate the life of the 6-foot-3 rugby player with a heart of gold.
Mark , a bond saleman for Keefe,Bruyette & Woods on the 89th floor of the WTC's south tower, loved to play rugby for NYAC. His infectious laugh made him equally at ease with CEOs and janitors.
As it turned out, the bombers were as indiscriminate as they were evil. They killed both.
The love of Mark's life was Maureen. a human dynamo he met at an East Side bar nine years ago, and married in 1998.
"Last night, I said, 'I'm 29 years old and I'm going to my husband's funeral,'" Maureen said in a quiet moment.
"Then my friend told me this really stupid story about a psychic,channeling me. I couldn't stop laughing." "I went into the bathroom and said, 'Mark,you would think this is so funny.'"
Mark's sister,Clare, had just come from her apartment downtown. Homeless since the blast, she went inside for the first time to retrieve her shoes.
His mom, Christina Ludvigsen, last spoke to her son shortly after the north tower was hit. "Mother, I'm fine." he told her."They've told us to stay. Call me tonight."
Mark and Maureen wanted a family, but were waiting until Maureen's year-old cosmetic business,Tarte,took off.
But the new widow isn't one to dwell on unfinished business.
"I have no regrets. I really feel lucky that I had Mark for nine years," she said.
"Every year, we were happier, Every year, he would like me more. I have no idea why! He was the love of my life, God gave him to me.
"I haven't done anything to deserve it yet, but maybe, one day, I will."
Alone at night in their East Side apartment, Maureen's exuberance can give way to despair. Then, she looks at a poem attributed to the Carmelite Monastery in Waterford, Ireland.
It reads, in part:
Death is but nothing at all
I have only stepped away into the next room
Call me by my old familiar name, speak to me in the easy way you used to. Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together.
I am but waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just around the corner
One brief moment and all will be as it was before, only better, infinitely happier, And forever, we will be together again.
Said Maureen,"This is so amazing. This is so Mark."
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William and Mary Rugby Football Club