I originally wrote this on September 11, 2006, 5 years after the WTC. I’m reposting this on September 11, 2019, 18 years after.
During high school, I spent nearly every waking hour in the company of the Klitzman twins. We took biology together, English, physics, chemistry, social studies, lunch and band. I’d walk from class to class to class and they’d always be there. After school, we’d carpool together to after-school activities. I believe I spent more time with the twins than their parents did.
We had little in common. I was a computer geek, into science fiction and programming. They were athletic. They played tennis and were well liked. The band-twin was excellent at her instrument. I just played along and tried not to hit too many sour notes. Socially, we lived in very separate worlds and I never got to know them. We co-existed rather than interacted. I am the poorer for that.
They both became adults of great accomplishment. They went, I believe, to Princeton. From what I have googled, Karen did graduate work at Columbia and became the vice president of research for the New York Mercantile Exchange. Donna attended medical school and now practices medicine in New Jersey. It sounds like they were amazing people.
Five years ago today, a plane flew into the office of Cantor Fitzgerald and vaporized Karen. From what I can tell, her body was never found. Along with her at the World Trade Center died Edward Fergus and Thomas Collins and Christopher Panatier, who attended High School East at the same time we were at West and Martin Lizzul who graduated West a few years after we did. I don’t think I ever met or knew them, but they were from home.
The minutes of the board of the Half Hollow Hills school districts lists parents, uncles, aunts, cousins, and friends. A couple of teachers at West Hollow lost nearly a dozen friends all at once. Friends and acquaintances spent months going to memorial service after memorial service.
Today, all the cable channels will be replaying memories of that time. And tomorrow, Apple is going to introduce some new iPods and iMacs and life will go back to normal.
Life is short and unpredictable. We all have many missed opportunities and people of value that we never got to really know. Rather than focus on the obsessive hatred and corrosive philosophy that motivated the events of 9/11/2001, today I’m going to take a moment to appreciate and better get to know the people in my life.
We are surrounded by good people. Sometimes we forget about that.
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