Life After 9/11: Nicki Bunting
For this Darnestown resident, the terrorist attacks of 9/11 set into motion the war that would claim her husband's life.
For military families, the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, is not just an idea. It is something they live with every day.
For Nicki Bunting, it means living without her husband, Army Capt. Brian “Bubba” M. Bunting, and raising their two boys, Conner and Cooper on her own.
"It's often said that butterflies are someone's spirit around you," Nicki said. "Whether it's true or not, it's something that brings a smile to my face."
In 2009, Bubba came home from his tour of Afghanistan for a two-week visit, and the couple tried to conceive an R&R baby before Bubba returned to the war.
Nicki was notified on a Tuesday that her husband had been killed on Feb. 24, 2009, by a roadside bomb. Four days later, she learned she was pregnant.
"The kids have kept me going," she said. "Conner got me out of bed every day, and Cooper kept me healthy."
Conner, 4, was a year and a half old when his father died in Afghanistan. Cooper will be 2 in October.
Bubba’s memory is very much still alive—due in no small part to Nicki's own initiative. In 2009, she organized Bubba's Belly Run, a charity 5K run at the Bullis School in Potomac, to honor her husband's sacrifice and that of other soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq. The third annual run will be held on Sept. 25 this year.
Much closer to home, Nicki makes sure her children feel their father's presence as much as possible.
As she and her children walk through the woods in their backyard, Nicki points out butterflies: "I tell them that every time we see a butterfly, Dad's thinking of us.”
This photo was created as part of a larger project in coordination with Action America to document how the country has been affected by the events of Sept. 11, 2001.
See how you can become an Actionist and turn the events of 9/11 into positive action at www.ActionAmerica.com and look for more local coverage and personal stories of the 10th anniversary of 9/11 on Patch.
How has 9/11 affected you in the last 10 years? Please share your post-9/11 remembrances with us in the comments section below.