The books that fill the shelves in Jim Hart’s Borough Park home library have defined his life.
But some of the words define his love. They’re his own and they’re dedicated to his wife sue.
“She was the love of my life,” Hart said. “It’s hard till this day. Some days it seems like three minutes ago and some days it seems like three lifetimes ago. It doesn’t end and I hope it doesn’t, as much as you feel the pain you don’t want to stop feeling the pain.”
Loving Sue and Missing Sue are two of Hart’s books of poetry. Sue was and still remains his creative muse.
Sue was told she had terminal gallbladder cancer just three months before she passed away in 2020. Doctors said it was 9/11 related, a diagnosis that brought Hart back to that day 22 years ago, when Sue was in charge of facilities at city hall.
“I was scared as hell,” Hart said. “Being a husband, I said, ‘go home,’ but she said ‘I’m the manager of facilities and facilities are in danger. I can’t leave now.’”
Hart saw with his own eyes what was waiting at Ground Zero. He volunteered after work as a chief for the New York City Department of Sanitation, hoping to find survivors.
“Everything and I mean everything, the streets, the signs [and] the buildings were this tannish color,” Hart recalls. “You could not tell where you were.”
He wished his wife, who was a dedicated partner, mother and employee, hadn’t been so dedicated at that moment.
“Not only did she stay the first day, I knew Sue and I knew she was going to go back and it’s one of those times you don’t fight but you try and persuade and you say ‘listen this is dangerous,’” Hart said. “If you hated somebody you wouldn’t want them walking into that danger every day, but if you were totally in love with somebody you definitely won’t. You wish she wouldn’t have gone to work.”
Since Sept.11, 2001, there have been 69 types of cancer that have been linked to the toxic dust at Ground Zero.
As of March of 2023, she and nearly 6,000 others have paid the ultimate price for it.
Sue’s duty to her work and the people of New York wasn’t unappreciated. In 2011, then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg issued a proclamation declaring April 14 of that year to be “Susan Hart Day” in New York City.
Now Jim is left with 50 years of memories and two works of poetry that have been published in journals all over the world. His love for Sue is memorialized forever.
“It is a bit cathartic, while you’re doing it but then when you’re finished and you’re done and it comes back to you as a book and that’s over now you have to deal with what comes next, Hart said. “There are a lot of tear-stained pages, I can say with Missing Sue, although some were painful there were no blank pages. The ideas flowed as fast as I fell in love with her.”
If he could, Hart would rewrite history, but instead he writes about Sue. You can get Jim’s books, Loving Sue and Missing Sue on Amazon.