Finding Nicholas

By Lanza, Nicholas | Newsweek, September 12, 2011 | Go to article overview

Finding Nicholas


Lanza, Nicholas, Newsweek


Byline: Nicholas Lanza

When my mom died in Tower 2, they made a documentary about us. Here's what happened next.

We had just begun our math class when the teacher suddenly got up and walked out of the room. Then, around 8:30, every alarm went off, all of them blaring at the same time. We all panicked. Our teacher rushed back in and told everyone to go home--whether your parent was there or not made no difference, you still had to go home.

We rushed from the room as fast as we could. I ran into one of my older friends, and we went home together. Our families lived in the same building. We went into his part of the house, where his sister was already watching CNN. They were streaming live what was occurring where my mom was working.

We watched in horror what was happening just a few miles away. On the inside, I was screaming. On the outside, my jaw dropped open. We sat there watching the terrified people running and screaming, trying to get away from what we now call Ground Zero. We argued for the longest time over which building went down first--the south building or the north building. But in the end, it never mattered. After this, everything became a blur. I was 7 years old.

My aunt came in contact with a guy from HBO and a psychologist, Dr. Gilda. They made a documentary of my life after 9/11. That documentary made a bad situation worse. It was like taking a marshmallow, already crisped in a fire, and putting it in a microwave. What happens? It explodes. We had a memorial for Mom, and then?.?.?.?the blur began again.

I went to live with my dad down in Virginia. It was hard for me to leave all my school friends, and I was still rejecting the truth of the entire situation. I recall leaving my house with a small bag in my hand--a bag that contained a few of the things my mother had once owned.

In Virginia, I had some good times, but the heartache was still there, unable to be relieved. I became mentally unstable, easily saddened, and despising the world. There would be times when I considered committing suicide. Praise God that I didn't, though!

Then Dad introduced me to my future stepmother. For the next few months, she and I would go out to McDonald's and just chat. But I had the hardest time accepting her as a stepparent. I was still wrestling with what I now call my "inner demons." They are called depression, wrath, and unforgiveness. They ruined my life for many years.

In 2005 we moved to New Hampshire. It was the beginning of what I now call the "time of silence." I withdrew into myself and began a period of loathing my stepmom, who I believed was the reason we moved.

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