The next morning, when my brother told me that somebody had flown a plane into the World Trade Center, I didn't believe him. Then I saw the footage, and watched live as the second plane hit. We were unable to reach my stepfather, who was working by South Ferry. I called Dan and John, whom I was to give rides to, and told them that I might not be able to make it to the funeral. Eventually, we finally did get speak to Steven, and I was able to attend the services.
Unfortunately, while the funeral itself was in Rockville Center, the interment would be in Queens. We spent three hours on Sunrise Highway, making it only one town over because of the traffic; eventually we were forced to abandon attending the burial when it became apparent that we wouldn't be able to make it.
I was lucky enough not lose anybody in the destruction of the Twin Towers, but I was already dealing with the loss of a friend when the attacks occured. And because of that event, many of us - including myself - never got the feeling of closure with him.
While the hour whosamama and I spent attempting to contact Steve was frantic, truth be told, I spent most of the rest of the day just feeling numb. There was just so much going on, and the horrific reports on the radio seemed so unreal, like at some point Orson Welles might come on and inform us that it was all some colossal prank.
The view from the Promenade, five years and a day ago.
Every day I ride the 7 train to work. It's an elevated line, and there is a point where you clear the buildings and can see the Manhattan skyline clearly. I will never forget my commute to work on September 12, seeing those clouds of nothingness where those two proud buildings once stood. Nor will I forget a few weeks later, on the return trip from Baltimore, to which I had accompanied John's band Lester Swing as roadie and film crew. We came home via the Brooklyn Queens Expressway, which passes the famous Promenade overlooking southern Manhattan and felt the reality sink in. The city felt 'broken' in the aftermath of that attack, a feeling that has never really subsided.
My grandfather (on my father's side) worked at the Twin Towers for many years. I built a model of these two buildings for in third grade. Erected in the 60s and first opened in 1970, and serving throughout the 80s as the logo for WPIX Channel 11, they seemed immutable features of the city to me. It is impossible for me to look at the skyline and not feel that there is something missing, that some aspect of the city's identity has been robbed of it.
But most of all, it is impossible for me to see the skyline and not remember Joseph "Ho" Miller, a genial man whose life was too short, but his death swept away too soon by the tides of history. Someone whom I never had a chance to say a proper farewell to.