Brian Sweeney's wife Julie never thought that something like this would take him away. Now she holds on dearly to that powerful message he sent.
It's been 18 years since Julie Sweeney Roth lost her husband, Brian Sweeney, in the 9/11 attack, but she still remembers his last message to her. The heartfelt message saw her through the pain of losing him and taught her to embrace life because he would have wanted her to.
Brian was a passenger in the hijacked United Airlines Flight 175 that crashed into the South Tower of the World Trade Center. This message is one of the most powerful remains of the horrific day that shook the world. A year after the attacks, this message was shared with the public and now has a place dedicated to it in the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, according to Bustle.
Your breath is checked, for a second, reading this. pic.twitter.com/jSgt335PoS— Stig Abell (@StigAbell) September 11, 2017
Brian, 38, a former U.S. Navy pilot from Massachusetts, was working for a Defense Department contractor, Brandes Associates. According to the 9/11 Commission report, he left the message on their "home answering machine that the plane had been hijacked. He then called his mother, Louise Sweeney, told her the flight had been hijacked and added that the passengers were thinking about storming the cockpit to take control of the plane away from the hijackers." Louise turned on the TV after receiving the phone call to see the second aircraft hit the World Trade Center. His mom never disclosed to the public what his last message was.
That Brian Sweeney voicemail is amazing, in terms of its grace, courage & selflessness. I am in awe #911Anniversary— The Panic (@Gunntwitt) September 11, 2017
"Hey Jules, this is Brian," went Brian's message to his wife Julie, according to Bustle. "I'm on an airplane that has been hijacked...if things don't go well, and they're not looking good, I want you to know that I absolutely love you. I want you to do good, have good times, same with my parents. I'll see you when you get here. I want you to know that I totally love you. Bye, babe, hope I will call you." The call was made around three minutes before it hit the World Trade Center, according to PEOPLE.
The message has been replayed every year since the attacks on its anniversary and it became a lasting gift for his wife as well. She couldn't believe he was going to perish in the attack until it actually happened, because she thought of him as a warrior, she said in her interview with the 9/11 Memorial & Museum.
“I was lucky Brian called and spoke to me on that message,” Julie, 46, told PEOPLE. “He told me what he believed and I grasped onto that with all I had, and I’ve embraced life — I am living it as I know he would want me to do.” She believes that he wouldn't have made that phone call unless he thought that he was not going to make it, even though his message was hopeful.
“The priority to him in those moments were to let his loved ones know that he loved us and that it was okay to move forward and do what we needed to do,” Julie, who now lives in New Jersey, said. “Though he believed he would see us again, he wanted us to know it was all going to be okay no matter how it turned out.”
She's remarried since then but continues to volunteer at the 9/11 Tribute Museum. However, she will forever have Brian in her heart. She fondly remembered him as "Tom Cruise but with a Goose personality." "He had the confidence of Tom Cruise but he had this personality that you just wanted to hug him and love him,” Julie remembers. “He was just that kind of guy."
She added, “There are still times when I cry and I listen to his message.” She said, “It’s still a part of me and there’s probably still a lot of healing I have to do.” She hasn't had any closure and neither does she think she would have it anytime soon.
“Moving forward does not mean you have forgotten your past. I don’t use the word closure, I don’t believe in it, people throw it out there all the time. You don’t ever close the door to something like this,” Julie said. “It’s one day at a time. That’s all this life is, one second at a time.”