Trigger warning: this post is about 9-11 and love and loss.
Tomorrow morning it will be seventeen years since you died. How unbelievable that seems right now. I think about the events that took your life nearly every day, and yet it still surprises me every year when the emotion and sadness creep up on me.
I remember the first time I saw you and the last. Both times you were playing music, you, the self-described “mediocre bass player.” The bass remains my favorite instrument. The last time I saw you I met your wife and your little boy—I’m not sure your daughter was born yet, though of course I saw her at your memorial. They were beautiful children and from what I’ve ascertained through Facebook, they are beautiful adults.
Of course they are. You were a beautiful, kind soul. Too kind for me, which is probably why our romance was so brief; I was in my early 20s and not yet ready for someone quite as decent as you. And of course we didn’t last so that you could get together with and marry your wife and create those beautiful kids.
I remember the holiday party after you died, when the band sat and played an acoustic set and there was an empty chair for you. I remember the next morning—I’d stayed over at Sean and Ivy’s—Sean was making breakfast and singing along to the song “Santeria”, and so that song will forever remind me of you.
I hadn’t realized you’d switched jobs, and so I didn’t know where you were working until Sean called to tell me you’d not been found. I don’t know how this has never occurred to me before, but I wonder, when I was at the site giving food to the rescue workers three days later, so close that we could feel the buildings still smoldering, I wonder how far away from me you were.
I remember when you were found.
Legend has it that your last words were, “OH FUCK”. I can still conjure your voice and hear you say that.
I didn’t visit Ground Zero again until last June, when my friend came to town from New Orleans. This is a friend who, like me, knows that there is an afterlife. As soon as we got off the subway, she became overwhelmed with emotion. We walked around for a bit and I didn’t expect I’d find your name and then there it was.
I remember the first time we met up on purpose and Laura Martin was there. I have long imagined that you and Laura Martin spend time together wherever it is that you are now, and when my Louie died in March I comforted myself by visualizing the three of you as a makeshift family.
I remember our first date.
The title of this post is from the song “Here Today,” which Paul McCartney wrote about his dear friend John Lennon.
I’m a very different person today than I was when we were friends. I’m much more sure of myself. I know who I am, though I’m still a work in progress. You and my man would get along well. I know you would.
It’s raining tonight, not like it was on your last night on earth, because that was quite a deluge. But it’s raining enough to remind me.
At the tenth anniversary your mom remarked that she fantasizes that you’ve flown to Hawaii and are living there happily. We are contemplating a trip there in January; maybe I’ll see you.
Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, know that you are missed and loved by many. You were a prince among men. And an excellent friend.
I leave you with this verse written by another friend whom I know you would love:
In the blinking of an eye, soon everything will change
From a clear September sky, the brimstone falls like rain.
If true love soars the heavens, pretend and we can fly.
Soon everything will change, my love, in the blinking of an eye.*
Until we meet again-
*Poetry by Neil Thomas