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Sept. 11 Snapshot: Regina Cheung Found Clarity Amid Pain


When we remember 9/11, most of the stories we tell are about loss. Regina Cheung, like the rest of us, felt that loss. But she also found something on that day, and it changed her life.

REGINA CHEUNG: My name's Regina Cheung. I live in Sunnyvale, Calif. In September of 2001, I had just recently graduated from college and was beginning graduate school in the Boston area. And I had been in a relationship with my college boyfriend since freshman year. But over the summer, we decided even though we were both going to be going to Boston for graduate school that we wanted to kind of go on a break. I wasn't really sure if this was the right relationship for me outside of the bubble of college. I wanted to go into my new adult life as, you know, one person going forward on my own. And then I would see, you know, maybe this would work out, maybe it wouldn't.

And so the morning of September 11, after I called my mother the first thing I thought of was, where's my ex-boyfriend? And we had actually been in touch and were planning on, I think, having lunch that day. I had no way of really contacting him. But this was before cell phones were ubiquitous, so I just kind of took it on faith. OK, I'll go down to the - to meet him at the subway and hopefully he'll be there. And he was. And he hugged me.

And at that time it was like, OK, he's here with me now. I'm going to be OK no matter what's going on around - in the world around me. And I think at that point, that was when I knew that, yes, this was the person that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. I'm sure that there was some conversation that happened afterwards, but that's not really what sticks in my mind. It's standing in the T with him, hanging onto him for dear life.

Everything went from zero to 100 pretty quickly after that. I moved in with him about six to nine months later. The following fall we got engaged, and we got married in 2003. And since then, we've moved to California. We now have two kids. And this weekend, we're celebrating my son's eighth birthday. We actually took him home from the hospital on September 11 in 2008. And that kind of took the sting out of - sting out of the day. September 11, 2001 - that was, like, the beginning of my adult life.

MARTIN: That was Regina Cheung. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.