Cen Jiaoxian lost her son on 9/11, but she now finds fulfillment through music. NY1’s Shazia Khan filed the following report.
From mahjong on Mondays to a singing group on Tuesdays, Cen Jiaoxian says that after years of living in grief, she tries to keep herself busy every day of the week after her son Zhe “Zack” Zeng was killed on September 11th.
“Zack would want me to live a good life, so I've been trying to do things that have been fulfilling,” said Jiaoxian through an interpreter.
A bank manager in Chinatown and trained EMT, the 28-year-old Zeng was on his way to work when he saw the towers burning. He raced down to the scene to help and assisted in evacuations. Zeng was last seen in news footage helping an injured woman at the site.
His remains were identified in 2002.
“Because I knew that his life was given for a higher worth, it definitely makes it a little better, but it's never an easy thing to cope with that,” said Jiaoxian.
Zeng and his family emigrated from China to Brooklyn in 1988. He received an MBA from the University of Rochester and was a member of a Volunteer Ambulance Group in nearby Brighton. He is part of the EMS memorial at the Empire State Plaza in Albany.
When Jiaoxian learned a street would be named after her son for his selfless act, she asked if it could be in Chinatown.
“Where there is a lot of tourists, where people can see his name and learn about his story and realize that this Chinese community had this positive contribution to New York City,” said Jiaoxian.
As she dances and sings, she knows her son Zack is in the audience.