Diana Segal, 59, and Garrie Segal, 66, Orangevale
On the 25th anniversary of their wedding day, the Segals woke up to news of the worst terrorist attacks in American history.
Instead of celebrating with a family dinner as planned that night, they ate Top Ramen soup alone at home.
"There was no way we wanted to have a party when so many people had broken hearts and pain," said Garrie Segal.
Three years to the day after the 9/11 attacks, Garrie's beloved mother died. "I thought, 'How much more sadness can come on this cursed day?' " he recalled.
"But our daughter Sarah, in her words of wisdom, told us, 'Look at it this way: Bubby was always a special part of your life, and now she will always be a part of your anniversary celebration.' "
Memories of the terrorist attacks and Garrie's mother's death have darkened a day that once brought them so much joy, but it also has delivered perspective.
"It made us realize how precious life is," Garrie said. "We appreciate every day."
And so the couple, retirees who previously ran a Rio Linda diner named Pinky's Classic that featured exotic milkshakes, have found a new way to mark the complicated Sept. 11 anniversary.
Each year, they have dinner out and then light memorial candles for "all the loved ones who were lost on that day," Garrie said.
"We think about them," he said. "But we can still say 'happy anniversary' to each other."