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A widow’s tale: Remembering 9-11 • Brooklyn Paper

A widow’s tale: Remembering 9-11

Marian Fontana, 9-11 widow and author.
File photo by Hugh Crawford

For the longest time, Marian Fontana’s fatherless son, Aiden, wanted to be a firefighter — just like the old man he lost on 9-11.

But, now 15, the teenager is pursuing music instead.

“He wants to be a rock star,” said Fontana, whose Park Slope life was torn apart like the Twin Towers that killed her husband, Dave Fontana. “He loves the guitar, plays music and writes songs. He still mentions being a firefighter, and has a great respect for the job, but I don’t think he’ll choose that life.”

Aiden Fontana is, of course, not the only victim of Sept. 11 whose dreams were dramatically altered by that day. The legions of people changed forever by 9-11 are as near as the house next door and as far away as Afghanistan and Iraq.

Marian Fontana, too, has changed since the day that her husband, a member of Park Slope’s elite Squad 1 on Union Street, died with 11 members of his team as they ran into the crumbling towers to rescue civilians.

She moved to Staten Island a few years after the terror attack, then turned tragedy into triumph, channeling the raw emotions she felt into her book, “A Widow’s Walk: A Memoir of 9-11,” which she saw as a testament of that tragic day and the year that followed.

And now she’s completed her second book, “The Middle of the Bed,” a memoir on single parenting and jumping back into the dating world under otherworldly circumstances.

The one thing she’s learned is that the only constant in life is change.

“I’m dating, and I’ve been involved in a couple of relationships,” she said. “I was even engaged once, but I can’t say that I found ‘The One.’ You try to approach each date with an open heart and a lot of faith, but it’s not an easy road.

“When I think about Dave, it’s definitely not as painful as it used to be,” she added. “I’ve tried to move forward. I don’t like the phrase ‘moving on.’ I think about Dave all the time and I try to live a happy life, but sometimes doing both can be tricky.”

Especially when she gets a reminder of her late husband every day — thanks to Aiden.

“He’s built just like him,” she said. “He’s even surpassed Dave by an inch already. And his expressions are very sincere and compassionate, like Dave. I just wish Dave was here to see it and experience it with me.”

Thousands are expected to flock to Ground Zero this Sunday to mark the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11, but Marian and Aiden Fontana won’t be among them.

Instead, they’ll go to Prospect Park, which her husband treated as his second home.

“We never go to Ground Zero,” Fontana said. “Aiden and I have a ritual. We go to his grave at Green-Wood Cemetery and put flowers down then we go to Prospect Park where he proposed to me — in the middle of a Nor’ Easter.”

Aiden Fontana once wanted to be a firefighter just like his dad, Dave, who died on 9-11. Now, he wants to be a rock star.

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