WALDORF, Md. — For some families who lost loved ones on September 11th, it's still too painful to talk about their loss.
A Walford mother shared how she's coped with the death of her son and why she decided to break her silence for the first time in 20 years.
Basmattie Bishundat looks at a portrait painting of her late-son and notes how much the painter captured his spirit.
“The eyes, she captured the color, the smile, the lips, the eyebrows. That’s who he was. The smile. Everybody knew that smile,” Bishundat said.
Like fathers and daughters, there's an unbreakable bond between mothers and their sons.
“Romeo was my first love. Really. My marriage was arranged, so that’s the way how I explain to everybody. And, at the end I say, Romeo knew how much I loved him and I knew how much he loved me and nothing else matters,” Bishundat said.
Bishundat lost her son Romeo during the attack at the Pentagon on September 11, 2001.
“It was three days before his 24th birthday,” Bishundat sighed.
September 2021 marks 20 years of Bishundat coping with her son's death.
“I don’t know if it’s a pretend that he’s never coming back or it’s love that keeps him around. He’ll always be with us. It’s hard to explain, but when you lose someone, love never dies. Love never dies, especially when it’s your child.
As fate would have it, Romeo called his mother at 8:30 on the morning of September 11th. Sixteen minutes before the first hijacked plane would hit the World Trade Center at 8:46.
“He never called me from his office for the few months he’s been there, but he did call me in the morning of 9/11, don’t ask me why,” Bishundat said.
They made small talk about Romeo having just come from the gym, taking online classes with the University of Maryland, and his prized possession, his brand new Jeep.
“He wanted to buy a used car to drive to work and not his Jeep. We talked about that, I love you and that was it,” Bishundat said.
Right after that call, Bishundat figured the events of that morning meant her son probably would be busy with his job in the communications office at the Pentagon, but then American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the west side of the Pentagon at 9:37.
“When we heard about that, of course my reaction was normal. I just lost it,” Bishundat said.
For a brief moment, there was hope.
“A friend of ours said your son would not walk from the navy side of the pentagon, but I forgot that Romeo told me his office had moved,” Bishundat said.
Before his death, Romeo was living at home with his parents and had just recently started working at the Pentagon in May of 2001. Again, he never called from work except for that one morning on September 11th.
“And I remember every word what we talked about, what was said. It was just like you never know it was gonna be the last conversation,” Bishundat said.
Despite the loss of her son, the love they shared spares her from the pain of regret.
“Please live by us. Live by what I say. If you have any regrets, and you lose somebody, you’re grief will be a million times worse,” Bishundat said.
The love Bishundat has for her son is evident in everything of his that she's kept, including his Jeep. Not one corner of her house inside or out, has been left untouched by romeo's presence.
“I’m not saying that’s all I have. That’s all the material things I have. I have all the memories and just the wish, when I think about Romeo being 44. We were married September 5th, Romeo was born on the 14th the next year and he died on the 11th,” Bishundat said.
A true American success story, Bishundat came to the U.S. from Guyana, South America when Romeo was two and a half-years-old.
She described her son as a typical boy.
Bishundat remembered her son loved to have fun, but school work not so much. She encouraged him to join the Navy which helped him mature into the man he would become.
“I could see that like the year before, when he was reading ‘Dont Sweat the Small Stuff. I knew my son was getting there, and he would tell me, ‘mom, don’t sweat the small stuff’,” Bishundat said.
Now, she's trying to live by those words of advice as she proudly shared her son's story for the first time in 20 years.
“I decided to do this now because I’m way stronger. It took me a very long time to get where I am today, so it’s all about Romeo’s story and I’m glad I’m able to tell it. That I’m strong enough to tell it,” Bishundat said.