9/11 – In memory of a friend
I am sitting here having my morning cup of coffee, much as I can imagine you were doing that fateful morning as you were getting ready for work. It was a crisp, beautiful day. I would like to believe you kissed your lovely wife good bye and hugged your kids as you left for work, but the reality is, we sometimes fall into a routine and just take that kind of stuff for granted. I wonder, what were you thinking as you left your apartment for that subway ride to your office? Was it the wonderful weather, a work issue, maybe a family happening?
I remember working with you at another financial firm in mid-town back in the early 80’s. You were a few years older and were always helpful, showing me the ropes, assisting me as I learned my job. You were finishing up law school and I remember you telling me how you wanted to pursue that career path instead of the one laid out before us in mid-town. You dreamed of working on Wall Street. By 1984, when I moved out of New York to pursue a new career opportunity, you had already left the firm, chasing your dreams downtown. It would be poetic to say we were the best of friends, but in actuality we were merely work acquaintances who shared an occasional beer socially outside of work. We didn’t keep track of each other over the years; you went your way and I mine.
Seventeen years later, I recall waking up September 11, 2001 to an incredibly crisp, cool day. The weather was beautiful, so I decided to extend my morning run for another two miles. By the time I returned home from the run, my kids had all left for school and my wife for work. It seemed like an ordinary day. I showered and left to meet some bankers at a development site we were looking to finance. I didn’t get back to the office until about 9:30, where I was immediately told of a horrible crash. Everyone was huddled in the conference room where the TV was on. I watched in stunned silence as buildings that I so often have been in and out of for the many years I lived and worked in New York were on fire. This was too personal for me – I had been inside those very same corridors countless times! I was appalled and yet I couldn’t look away. Feeling sick, I returned to my desk. All I could think about, all I could focus upon was who I might know and were they all OK. I frantically started calling my friends in New York; the lines were all busy. Busy, busy, busy. Every attempt busy. All day long busy. Nothing but that awful busy signal.
It took me three days to account for everyone I knew or worked with. Everyone made it except for you.
Rest in peace, Stephen.
I need to go hug my wife and and call my kids right now and tell them I love them before I leave for work.