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9/11 Widow: ‘It Feels Like It Just Happened’

Jeffrey Mladenik was killed on Sept. 11, 2001. (CBS)

Jeffrey Mladenik was killed on Sept. 11, 2001. (CBS)

Mike Parker Mike Parker
Mike Parker has been a general assignment reporter for CBS 2 Chicago...
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CHICAGO (CBS) — The tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks is just a little over a week away. 

For one family in far west suburban Sugar Grove, it will be a painful day.  Their husband and father perished at Ground Zero that day.

CBS2’s Mike Parker reports on how they are coping.

“I can see something on TV and it feels like it just happened,”  Suzanne Mladenik says.

That’s why Mladenik says she won’t be watching any of the 9/11 anniversary programs that will be all over television in the coming days.  Reliving the death of her husband Jeff is too much, she says. 

He was a publishing executive and an associate church pastor who was on board the first jetliner to crash into the World Trade Center.

What has she learned in the past decade?

“You find out who your real friends are, because there are people that really don’t want to hear bad things. When they say ‘How are you?,’ they just want you to say, ‘Fine,’ so they can feel better about it,” Mladenik says.

There are lots of days when she is not fine.

“You get that overwhelming sense that life is so unfair,” she adds.

But there is joy in the family. Her grown children are doing well and she’s thrilled at the challenge of raising her two adopted daughters. They never knew their dad.

This coming weekend, the family will fly to New York to take part in the various 9/11 commemorations.  Mladenik says she’s not thrilled about getting on an airplane with her entire family.

“That’s kind of a scary thought,” she says.

There is fear because Mladenik believes the era of terror is not over. “I heard somebody say it’s not ‘if’ it’s going to happen, it’s pretty much, ‘when’ it’s going to happen again,” she says.

At the ceremony where victim’s relatives read  the names of those killed in the 9/11 attacks, she hopes she’ll be allowed to read the name of her lost husband.