Fast forward to 9-11. So many stories: a friend who stopped for a bagel on the way to work in the towers and missed it; my sister-in-law's friend was late for work and, after coming out of the subway, thought there was another parade going on, a couple of good friends who were caught in the towers and who made it out; we know three people who did not.
Closest to us was our friend Patrick. A firefighter, he was there on the first attack in 1993. I had a cousin who was in the building that day, quit her job and moved to Vermont. Pat remained in an elevator with a bunch of school kids who were there on a class trip. He got them to safety.
In 2001, Pat had the day off. He had switched shifts with his best buddy so he could take his son to his first day of nursery school. The buddy, as well as 5 others from his firehouse, passed away. Pat took on the role of being a surrogate Dad to all their children and was an advocate for all the firefighters from his house.
In the spring of 2002, at the age of 40, Pat went for routine vascular surgery and had a fatal heart attack in recovery. The autopsy uncovered the fact that he had been suffering from sarcoidosis defined as "a disease of unknown cause, characterized by granulomatous tubercles of the skin, lymph nodes, lungs, eyes, and other structures." His lymph nodes were all inflamed and had moved into his heart cavity; his heart was unable to regain function.
But this disease was not of unknown cause. It was from the guilt of not being there on 9-11 and taking on so much responsibility for his men. That winter we had seen him running himself ragged and one of our friends said, "So when do you stop?" And he responded, "Never. They were my brothers."
My husband and I had never lost one of our group. It was one of the saddest times of our lives, you thought you were past it, looking forward. And then this. Pat may not haved technically died on 9-11 but he is another casualty of it.
So, Patrick, today I remember you, our dear friend. We love you.