Louie Gonzalez, who lost his sister, Aida Rosario on 9/11,, lights a candle for her at St. Paul's Chapel near ground zero. Photo by Charles Li

Aida Rosario, 43, was at her office on the 87th floor of the World Trade Center when a hijacked plane slammed into the skyscraper and turned it into an inferno. Across the Hudson River her brother, Louie Gonzalez, was constructing the roof of a new office in Jersey City. He first saw the burning building, and then saw another plane slice through the other tower.

“Tears just streamed down my cheeks as I watched The Twin Towers burn and collapse,” said Gonzalez, 46, of Jersey City. “But my family remained in denial about Aida’s death and told ourselves that she was still missing. The denial was over when the Jersey Journal published the names and photos of the victims from Jersey City three days later.”

Rosario, a native of Jersey City, was the mother of two children, ages 8 and 6. It took exactly one year before her remains were found.

“On September 11, 2002 my family was having a wake for my aunt who just died, and the federal government called during the wake, he said. “They told us Aida’s remains would be returned to Jersey City on the same day.”

Her young children were confused by the news. They thought their mother was coming home.

“Aida and I have another sister who looks a lot like Aida,” he said. “When this sister arrived at the wake late, Aida’s two kids jumped up and called out their mother’s name.”

With tears in his eyes, Gonzalez said Aida’s kids honestly thought their mother was coming back to Jersey City alive.

Today, Gonzalez chose not to attend the 9/11 Memorial’s ceremony for the victims’ families. He chose to deliver some fresh flowers to Trinity Church, and light a candle of prayer in memory of his sister Aida, at St. Paul’s Chapel.

“I’m not ready to touch my sister’s name etched on some sort of bronze plate,” he said “I would just get down on my knees and have a breakdown in public.”