Emerging From The Darkness
9-11 Victim's Family Struggles
To Find Closure
A year has passed since The Wave last spoke with Hubert Hinds, who watched his wife perish after Tower 1 came crashing down in the aftermath of the World Trade Center attacks. Hinds, a native of Trinidad and resident of Far Rockaway for the last 27 years, is a humble man who still grapples with what happened to his wife of 32 years. The Wave was invited to speak with Hinds, and other family members, a day before the solemn anniversary.
"Earlier on, I had to deal with the shock of it all, but now it really gets to me. To say that I miss her would not be strong enough. There are no words to express the emptiness I feel in my heart," said Hinds.
"She just made everything seem so easy and routine."
Hinds' sons, who reside in Virginia, have come home on occasion to mourn with other family members, but the pain over their mother's death has proven to be more than they can bear. After a 10-day visit, a number of months ago, the boys have not returned to their former home.
"I can understand it. It's a very painful thing for them to walk into this house and not smell their mother's cooking or get a big hug. Clara was their world, and this tragedy has really affected them. She was more like a sister or close friend to them, as opposed to a mother. They just cannot accept her not being here," stated the father.
Hinds noted that a memorial service was held at St. Gertrude's Church, in Far Rockaway, for his wife a few weeks after the attack, and that those who came to pay their respects spoke very highly of his wife. He was proud of the fact that while other memorials featured politicians and prominent people, Clara's memorial consisted of friends (old and new), co-workers, and members of the church.
"She loved St. Gertrude's. She planned to start a sewing class for the children in the church. She really wanted to do that. That's just the kind of person she was," he said in a broken voice.
When asked if he had been to Ground Zero after finding his wife's remains, Hinds said that he could not bring himself to visit the site.
"They didn't find her body. I was told they found parts of her, and..."
Hinds did not comment any further because Clara's mother, Carmen Bartholomew, who was seated nearby, began to cry.
The uneasy silence was broken when Jacqueline Hackshaw, Clara's sister, began to reflect on her sister's life.
"I was very close to Clara because of her caring nature. She was the one I confided in. She always put herself in other people's situation. She was my mentor."
Hackshaw visited Ground Zero once. Like Hubert, she finds it difficult to return. A resident of the state of Florida, she watched the events unfold on television. She describes the event as, "the most horrible day of her life."
"I was holding on to hope, but when I saw the building Clara worked in start to fall, something was ripped out of me. I really miss talking to my sister."
She then reached for a tissue with her shaking hand to wipe her teary eyes.
Hubert's aunt, Sylvia Harrison, told The Wave that Clara was like her daughter, and that she always made an effort to console her during difficult times.
"Clara was always there for me. I still can't believe she's gone. We had so much in common. We were very, very close. I think about her everyday. I have a picture of her near my bed, and she's the first thing I see when I wake up in the morning. I cry for her, but then I say a prayer. After that, I'm okay," said Harrison.
Clara's mother, also a native of Trinidad, was visibly shaken and moved by the comments. She grabbed the hand of the Wave reporter and began to share her pain.
"I'm from Trinidad. I'm the mother of 10 children, and Clara was the third child. She was a loving and caring child."
The weeping mother, now trembling, reaches for a tissue.
"She was very caring."
The mother explained that she was in Trinidad when she suddenly felt the urge to turn on her television set.
"I'm not a TV fan, so I'm not sure what possessed me turn it on, but I did. The postman had just come. I sat down, and then I saw the plane go through the building. I called my sons, who work at a local school, and asked them if they saw what had happened. They said, 'Yes mommy, and we're coming now.' When they came, the three of us just held each other and cried."
It was not long after her sons arrived that her daughter (a nurse in Suffolk county) called to try and console her. She received a call from Hubert and Jackie shortly after.
"It has not been easy for me to deal with this. I try to handle it, but it's very hard," the mother stated.
"I'm a Jehovah's Witness, and I turned to the Bible to comfort myself. There is a chapter in Revelations, about resurrection, and that is what gives me strength now. As long as I have faith in my God, that is what will keep me safe and strong."
Each of the family members was asked to recall their fondest memory of Clara Hinds, and they were more than happy to share their thoughts.
"She was a very caring person. I remember when we went to three different sections of Mexico, and we saw little children working to help support their families. She took that very hard. When we got back to the states, she immediately joined one of those 'Feed The Children' programs. She was just a caring person," said Hubert.
"For me, it was her laugh. She would laugh a lot. She never took life too seriously. She was a happy person," said Jacqueline.
Hubert's aunt smiled before answering.
"She always hugged me. That was a big thing with her. Every holiday, it was a given. She was also concerned about my diabetes. She would often ask how I was doing. She was such an angel."
Still wiping tears from her eyes, Clara's mother chimed in.
"She called me all the time. She always wanted to know how I was feeling. My health was important to her. God.... I miss my daughter."