Sally Goodrich and I suddenly became linked together by the tragic death of an extraordinary and kind human being - her son, Peter Goodrich.
We only spoke twice about Peter, who was killed on the second plane that slammed into the World Trade Center on Sept. 11. But those two brief conversations over the phone told me all I needed to know about a remarkable and dedicated mother who had the courage and tenacity to go on living despite the shattering loss of her beloved son.
To this day, I don't know how Sally Goodrich found a reason to get out of bed each morning. Just after Peter's death, Sally was diagnosed with cancer, and now she was forced to fight off a life-threatening disease while continuing to cope with her overwhelming grief.
Some of us might have called it quits, close all the shades, shut out the living and allow grief and depression to consume us.
But despite her endless sorrow and nagging sickness, Sally found an outlet to remember and honor her cherished son. She and her husband, Donald, founded the Peter Goodrich Foundation, which raises money to build and fund schools in Afghanistan.
Two weeks after Peter died on that warm Tuesday afternoon, a friend of mine, who works for Stars and Stripes, informed me that Peter was a passenger on the second plane that struck the towers.
At first, Peter's name didn't ring a bell. I was still numb after the terrorist attacks. As a sportswriter and editor for the Lewiston Sun Journal, I kept a filing cabinet with some of the stories I had written over the years. At the top the stack of papers were several articles I had done about the Bates College All-American track star.
I called Donald and spoke with him just two weeks after those heinous events in New York City. It was one of the most difficult interviews I had ever done as a reporter. I knew life would never be the same for the Goodriches or the nation.
I remember Peter as a kind and modest athlete who was setting records in the hammer throw at Bates College. When you spoke with Peter, you knew right away that he was raised by caring and educated parents who put their children first. He was tribute to Sally's and Donald's love and devotion to their children.
Several years later, I got a call from Sally at the Sun Journal. She politely asked if she could reprint the articles I wrote about Peter on the foundation's Web site. I spoke with my editor and Sally was given the OK to place my stories on the site.
We spoke for a few minutes when she told me "that out of all the stuff that has been written about Peter, I read your articles every day because of the quotes you used in the story."
I was silent for a few seconds. You never know if the stuff you write ever touches anyone's soul. And now those words I wrote long ago continued to comfort a mother who suffered the most devastating loss of all - the death of a child.
I thanked this courageous woman for her kind compliments. We would speak once more when her son was posthumously inducted into the Auburn-Lewiston Sports Hall of Fame in 2008.
It would be the last time we talked about Peter.
Sally Goodrich, who wouldn't allow her grief to rule her and courageously plunged right back into to life to make a difference in the world, died at her home in Vermont on Dec. 18, 2010. She was 65.
Thank you Sally for being fearless and an inspiration to all of us in a world that could benefit from more compassionate individuals like you.
Rest in peace.