2002-11-09 / Community

A Wave Exclusive…. ‘I Didn’t Want To Say Goodbye’

Grieving Daughter Reflects on Flight 587
Tragedy And Those She Lost
By Yesenia Rivera

A Wave Exclusive....
'I Didn't Want To Say Goodbye'
Grieving Daughter Reflects on Flight 587
Tragedy And Those She Lost
By Yesenia Rivera


Gone but not forgotten. Yesenia's mother, Angela Bourdier (holding cake) was killed in the ill-fated flight. She is pictured with her daughter and other loved ones.Gone but not forgotten. Yesenia's mother, Angela Bourdier (holding cake) was killed in the ill-fated flight. She is pictured with her daughter and other loved ones.

My name is Yesenia Rivera, and I suffered the tragic loss of my mother on November 12, 2001, when American Airlines Flight 587 crashed in Belle Harbor, New York. My mother was Angela Bourdier, and her sisters, Isabel Bourdier and Martina Rodriguez Bourdier, were also killed in the crash.

I remember that fatal Monday morning as if it were yesterday. The day started out fairly routine as any other. I was watching television when programming was interrupted by an announcement of "breaking news." On screen were the final moments of a doomed flight. The jetliner exploded, showing a puff of smoke in the sky, seconds after take-off and just before slamming into the residential neighborhood in Queens. I remember praying for those people, not knowing it was a silent prayer for my own family.

I knew my mother and her two sisters were traveling that day to the Dominican Republic, but the departing flight was schedule for 7:15 a.m. It was about 9:15 a.m., therefore, I didn't worry much more about it. The phone rang; it was my sister-in-law. "I think your mom was on that plane," she said. I immediately replied no way - NO WAY! By now, her flight should have well advanced towards its destination. The media first reported it as an arriving plane. There was so much confusion. Nobody really knew what was happening. Old feelings came racing back again - another terrorist attack.

Minutes later, the phone calls started coming in, and at the same time my mother-in-law arrived with my cousin. My cousin's sister is employed with American Airlines and she offered assistance. He approached me with his eyes full of tears. I started to feel that tingle in the center of my stomach, and I didn't ask him anything. I didn't want to know or speculate at that point. My husband, brothers, and cousins all arrived moments later at a hotel that was designated as a waiting area for us until more information was available. Former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said they have the passenger list and names would be confirmed as to who boarded the plane.


Maria Isabel Bourdier, Angela's sister, celebrated her 52nd birthday just days before the crash.Maria Isabel Bourdier, Angela's sister, celebrated her 52nd birthday just days before the crash.

Airline officials said they had no indications of why the plane went down; no distress call, no terror threats, and in the end no explanation was given. Then, the names were confirmed, and that's when the insanity began. I began to wonder if it all was a bad dream, as seen on TV, realizing that your mother, and two aunts, is gone forever. That's half of a family. My heart sank to the floor. I couldn't stop crying. The pain was unbearable. I was caught in a horrible nightmare, just waiting for it to end. I just wanted them to be alive and well. I didn't want to say goodbye. After that, I can't remember much. My life, my world, went black.

There are just no words to describe the heart wrenching pain, which lies beneath my soul, especially when it is so explosively tragic. There was never a final farewell. Their charred remains are all I have left. Because of the burns they suffered, we had to have a closed casket service. That was very difficult. The pain is so hard to comprehend, and it only makes matters worse when you lose three family members all at once; not being able to say good-bye. When that happens, there are no words to describe the pain inside your heart.

I would like to talk to you a little about these three wonderful human beings so you can get an idea of who they were.

My "Madrina," Godmother and Aunt, Maria Isabel Bourdier, just turned 52 years old. She leaves behind two sons and a grandson. Her unique gift, which so many witnessed and admired the most, was her never-ending strength. She was an amazing, hard working, devoted Catholic, and a strong-willed single parent. She was a seriously committed work-aholic.


Yesenia is pictured with her aunt, Martina Rodriguez Bourdier. "It had been at least 18 years since she had been to the Dominican Republic. She was so excited about going back," said the distraught niece.Yesenia is pictured with her aunt, Martina Rodriguez Bourdier. "It had been at least 18 years since she had been to the Dominican Republic. She was so excited about going back," said the distraught niece.

I remember her taking a bad fall one time. She bruised her nose and broke two front teeth. The next day she went to work with her injuries and bruises. My Godmother was full of inspiration, and full of dreams of the future for her sons. I admired her so very much. A couple of years prior, she lost her only daughter in an unfortunate automobile accident in the Dominican Republic, which was also enormously tragic. However, she had the faith in God, the courage to withstand, and the strength to move ahead with her sons. She was beautiful, compassionate, always extending a helping hand to others, and extremely devoted to her Catholic Church.

My "Tia", aunt, Martina Rodriguez Bourdier, was 55 years old. She left behind four sons. It had been at least 18 years since she had traveled to the Dominican Republic. She was so excited. What a heartbreaking outcome. My aunt was a charismatic and loving woman. Her husband died of cancer a few of years ago. She also drew strength and gained peace through her belief in God, always a devoted Catholic. What I miss the most from her is her laughter. She was the funniest and outrageously silliest of the bunch. She had this quality about her. No matter what was happening in her life at the time, she always carried it with smile and comical gesture. She would make you smile to the point where it became contagious. Her gift was laughter, to live fully and to laugh often and much.

Lastly, and most dear to me, was my mom. The youngest of her sisters, Angela Bourdier, was going to turn 50 on January 4, 2002. She leaves behind three children, three grandsons, and a granddaughter. My mom was a very special woman. She was soft, peaceful and nurturing. She was everything to me. She was my confidant, my best friend, my mentor, and my support. She helped look after my children. We went shopping together. She was my everything. I can't stop thinking about her. There are so many things that I learned from her and still needed to discover. She blessed us with great family values. She had so much patience, always tenderly smiling, generously giving, kindhearted, and so very sensitive towards others. Constantly giving, even when she was lacking of funds to give, she would manage to scramble up money just so she could give it to those who more needy. She was always bringing out the best in me. She taught me to appreciate the beauty of life. My mom, my earthly guardian, believed so much in God's love. She would always tell me to go to church to pray and strengthen the faith. "God's love is our salvation," she would say. "You never know when you will need his strength." Oh, my lord was she ever right. Her gift was peaceful motherliness. "We will always love you Mommy."

Las Hermanas Unidas


"The worst part about this horrific nightmare is how we are expected to move on when there is no absolute and justified closure," stated a tearful Rivera."The worst part about this horrific nightmare is how we are expected to move on when there is no absolute and justified closure," stated a tearful Rivera.

Now we are left behind to pick up the pieces due to an "alleged" mechanical error, which I believe could have been avoided. Presently, many questions are still unanswered. The worst part about this horrific nightmare is how we are expected to move on when there is no absolute and justified closure. All parties to the investigation (APA, American Airlines, National Transportation Safety Board, and the FBI) have not taken fault in this tragedy. Someone has to pay for what occurred. The crash should be treated as a crime until no evidence of criminal activity has been determined. I don't know who, or what, caused this "incident," but it is not going to rest or diminished. Some one will pay! It has to be understood and realized that these were special human beings, whose lives disappeared in a "puff of smoke in the sky." Whether it was a cover up, conspiracy, malfunction or accident, it is unconscionable that we have yet to receive a response to our questions.

WE DEMAND ANSWERS AND WE DEMAND JUSTICE!


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