CONCORD, N.H. — Elizabeth Kovalcin didn’t wait up to hear President Barack Obama confirm that the mastermind behind the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks was dead. She decided she’d lost enough sleep over Osama bin Laden in the nearly 10 years since her husband was killed when the first hijacked plane struck the World Trade Center.
“I actually said to myself, ‘He has kept me up too many nights. I’ve lost too much sleep over this guy,’” Kovalcin said Monday. “He’s dead. He doesn’t deserve a thought. He doesn’t deserve my time. … I have kids who have to go school tomorrow. I need to make lunches and snacks.”
Kovalcin’s 11- and 14-year-old daughters were 1 and 4 when their father, David, 42, was killed on a business trip. Kovalcin said she feels thankful and a bit angry, but not relieved that bin Laden is dead.
“It brought up a lot of those anger feelings that I don’t have normally, but as I tell friends, if there’s one person I hate to the core of my being, it’s that person,” she said. “It was a very mixed feeling. Not relief, because I don’t live my life to have him killed. It’s not a relief, it’s not closure, it’s none of that. It was more like, ‘Thank you. We finally did it.’”
Janet Flyzik, whose 40-year-old daughter Carol was on the same flight, said her grief has long been replaced with enjoying life, and bin Laden’s death won’t change that.
“You have to move on. You cannot sit and obsess about it and dwell on it,” Flyzik, of Parsonsfield, Maine, said of the decade since her daughter’s death.
Carol Flyzik of Plaistow was a former emergency room nurse who traveled frequently in her second career in the medical software industry. Janet Flyzik has since lost her husband and son, testing her resolve to not be bitter about life.
“That doesn’t do you one bit of good. You may be angry, but you can’t stay angry,” she said. “It rules your life if you let anger take over.”
Flyzik found out bin Laden was dead when she turned on the television Monday morning. She said his death is important, but more terrorism will follow.
“Granted, he was the mastermind and supposedly the head of it, but there were so many others following him,” she said. “There is still such a big threat. He’s only one. Somebody else will step in and take over. We’re always going to have to be vigilant. There are so many people who want nothing more than for this country to disappear with none of us in it.”
Andrea LeBlanc of Lee said she worries that the threat to Americans will increase because of bin Laden’s death. Her husband, Robert, was a professor emeritus at the University of New Hampshire and was on his way to a geography conference in Los Angeles when he died.
“I wonder what the perception in the Muslim world is of seeing a nation celebrating a death. I guess I just don’t celebrate any death,” LeBlanc said. “I’m not so naïve to think this is actually the end of anything. It’s the end of this person’s life. To some degree, I’m concerned that maybe we are more at risk than we were when he was alive.”
Since her husband’s death, LeBlanc has become active in a group called September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, which advocates for nonviolent solutions in the pursuit of justice.
“All the violence that has ensued post-9/11 and been justified by 9/11 has been really heartbreaking,” she said.
Altogether, 10 New Hampshire residents were aboard the two planes that crashed into the towers of the World Trade Center, including Neil Mariani of Derry, who had taken a different flight than his wife heading to her daughter’s wedding in California.
His widow, Ellen Mariani, said she couldn’t say much Monday because she is still involved in litigation stemming from the attacks. She refused to accept a settlement from the federal victim compensation fund and has sued United Airlines, former President George W. Bush and other officials.
Mariani, who now lives in Colorado, said simply: “It won’t bring him back.”