The resilience of a Quebecer who lost her husband directly

September 12, 2021 by archyde

Montrealer Kimmy Chedel heard the voice of her husband Frank Doyle in New York for the last time at 9:22 a.m. on September 11, 2001. “He called me to tell me he was on the 87th floor and trapped. in one of the two twin towers. He was having difficulty breathing. I could hear people coughing and running. He asked me to tell our children that he loved them very much and to call 911. It was our last call, ”she says.

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Thirty-seven minutes later, at 9:59 a.m., she watched her husband die live in the collapse of the first World Trade Center tower. It was at this point that Garrett and Zoë, aged one and two at the time, became fatherless.

“When I saw the pictures, I screamed, cried and trembled. Twenty years later, it’s still difficult to talk about it, ”recalls the mother.

Kimmy Chedel agreed to tell the Journal what she’s been through in the last two decades since it helps her put a balm on still open wounds. This mother managed to stand up even though her world fell apart overnight due to the terrorist attacks perpetrated by Al Qaeda.

The resilience of a Quebecer who lost her husband directly

Photo AFP

The twin towers on the verge of collapse during the attacks of September 11, 2001.

Escape New York

Fleeing New York was one of Ms. Chedel’s priorities after the 2001 tragedy. She wanted to return to her family in Quebec, where she was born, and far from where her husband died at the age of 39.

“I stayed in our chalet in Sainte-Adèle, in the Laurentians, for almost four years. Afterwards, I moved to Montreal for the children’s school. We never returned to live in New York, but we went there several times to see, among other things, the 9/11 memorial with the name of the children’s father, ”explains the Montrealer.

The resilience of a Quebecer who lost her husband directly

Courtesy photo

Portrait of the family of Kimmy Chedel and Frank Doyle taken in 2001, the same year the father died.

Frank Doyle was born in Detroit, United States. He met Kimmy on a boat in New York. Both worked for the Stock Exchange at the time.

“It was love at first sight,” says Chedel. In all, they were married for almost four years.

Both of Mr. Doyle’s parents are from Ottawa. This is why he was also counted among the 24 Canadians who died during the attacks.

“I think I am the only Quebecer to have lost a loved one in the attacks. I’ve never met one here. It would have helped me to overcome this ordeal, to have other people like me in Quebec, that’s for sure, ”confides the one who now lives in the Côte-Des-Neiges — Notre-Dame-De-Grâce borough. , to Montreal.

Stay alive

Looking back, Kimmy Chedel insists that she “has never been mad at the attacks” and that “it is not in her nature”.

After her husband died, she got help.

The mother and her two children were followed by therapists who allowed them to put one foot in front of the other.

“I was told that a happy mother makes happy children. It marked me. I was also told to choose two days per year that you honor your husband. The other 363 days, you have to live in the present, ”she says.

One of those two days is September 11th. Each year, the family remembers the father buried in Quebec.

“It is the first body of all the victims of September 11 which was brought back to Canada”, indicates Kimmy Chedel.

“Every morning of September 11, it’s been very difficult for 20 years,” she says. Other times are tough. Zoë graduated from college in the United States this week with excellent grades. I thought shit, it’s amazing that Frank still misses such an important day in our daughter’s life. ”

Garrett and Zoë Doyle are now among 3,000 children who lost at least one parent in the September 11 attacks, according to the FBI, in the United States.

Now aged 21 and 22, they did not wish to speak with Le Journal because of the sensitivities linked to the death of the father.

“My daughter always keeps a picture of her father and her in a necklace that she wears around her neck. Frank is no longer there with us today, but we know that his spirit is with us, ”testifies the mother.

To keep the memory of the father alive, the family established the Team Frank Africa Foundation in 2002.

Schools to heal

The mission of this team, which includes more than 200 members, is to build each year in remote regions of Africa schools for the poor.

“We just built a fourth school there. Our next goal for the 20th anniversary of the attacks is to build two more by 2022, ”explains the Montrealer.

She admits that giving to others with her foundation allows her to better cope with her grief.

Kimmy Chedel and his children have traveled in recent years to Rwanda, Togo, Ghana, Kenya and even Nigeria.

The resilience of a Quebecer who lost her husband directly

Photo from Instagram, Team Frank Africa

Garrett and Zoë Doyle during a mission in Africa for the Team Frank Africa foundation, created in tribute to their father.

“Building schools, giving school supplies to the poorest, that helps me heal. I need to go to Africa. Even during the pandemic, I went there last January. It is necessary for me. I get better every time I go, ”she says.

Kimmy Chedel does not hide it.

She and her children fear they will experience a second attack this year, while yesterday we were commemorating the 20th anniversary of September 11, 2001.

Fears for the 20 years

“It is certain that this is something that worries me and that it is difficult to talk about it. Right now, I see the end of the war in Afghanistan and I wonder what it all served. You never know what can happen, ”she says, her voice tight with emotion.

His son Garrett, who is not in Quebec at the moment, was to join his mother this weekend to commemorate his father’s death.

“We decided it was too risky for him to travel this weekend during the 20th anniversary of the New York attacks. I try not to think about it too much. It is difficult to relive the emotions of the attacks. But I can tell you one thing: I never thought I’d be so happy today, with everything we’ve been through, ”concludes Ms. Chedel.

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Natasha Kumar

By Natasha Kumar

Natasha Kumar has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Times Hub, Natasha Kumar worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my