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The Long Goodbye

page 4 of 4


Christine Bennett
Bennett's fiancÚ, Danny Rosetti, was installing office furniture at AON on the 105th floor of Tower Two.

We met at Scores five years ago. I was a bartender. He was a regular. We were going to get married, but the baby came along first.

He got into the carpenters union in April. He was happy, finally. They happened to send him to the Trade Center for two days. Monday he came home and he was so excited . . . "You can't believe, Chris, you're so high up," he said. "The clouds are, like, below you." He actually said he felt like he was close to heaven. And then, uh, Tuesday . . . He always said he wasn't going to live past 35. He was 32.

I ended up going in to ground zero that night. His brother-in-law was a police officer in Jersey. I wish I hadn't. Every day I can still smell the fire, the smoke, I can still hear the sirens and the rescue workers, like I just walked away from it.

We got all of him back. I tried so hard, but they wouldn't let me see him. There was so much damage they were iffy on the identification. The clothes they sent him back with weren't his. And of course, I was like, "It's not him."

About a week after the wake, I got up and I just hated the whole world. Especially because of the baby. Mad because he doesn't have a father now, and his father couldn't wait to take him fishing and get him on the little kid's softball team. Justin's so young, he had no idea. Every day I show him the picture and say, "Where's Daddy?" And he points and kisses it.

Once a week, I can get through a whole day without crying. I can fall asleep now, but it's still an everyday struggle to get up. But I'm a single mom now. I have to.

I haven't touched any of his things yet. His dresser still has all his clothes in it. I don't want to move anything right now. I'm still on the same side of the bed.

I know I'm young and everyone tells me I'm going to have to start dating. But I couldn't even imagine dating. I mean, I was spending the rest of my life with him. He was the rest of my life.


Amy Ting
An actress who had just finished her first film, Miss Wonton, Ting was working at the Marriott World Trade Center.

I was sitting at the concierge desk in the lobby, on the first floor, when I heard a noise like a piano crash, then saw pieces of building come flying down onto the street; they looked like meteorites. I helped answer the phones; guests were calling from upstairs, you couldn't see what was going on, the fire alarm was ringing. By the time the guests were evacuated, the lobby was filled with firemen; I was trying to pass them water from the bar. Then one of the fireman came running in through the revolving door, yelling, "The building's coming down!" And it did; I flew from the middle of the lobby to the corner. It lifted me up in the air. I couldn't see; all I could hear were things crashing -- it was like death had just passed you by. My manager, who was ten feet away from me, didn't get out; debris fell on top of him.

To get out, we climbed up stories of debris and fallen beams; it was like hiking up a mountain of metal pieces. My shoes were caught, so I was in bare feet, I was bleeding, my whole body was Jello. Climbing down was another obstacle -- a fireman fell and dropped into this black hole. When we got out, we couldn't breathe, it was a ghost town, everything was white.

I spent the night on Staten Island, where one of my colleagues fed me and bathed me, and I called my mom and said, "I can't believe I got out, I almost died, I love you, I love you." Afterward, I was scared to come out of my house in Elizabeth, New Jersey, and had nightmares every night, and loud noises made my heart jump.

In mid-November, I went back to New York and was passing through Times Square when I saw the recruiting office for the United States Air Force. Before the 11th, I would never have thought about going into the military -- that would be crazy -- but my perspective changed. Now it's reality. I wondered what I was going to become. What my goals were. Now I know I want to get into medicine and help the armed forces. Last week, I finished basic training in San Antonio, Texas. I did obstacle courses and mental- and physical-endurance tests.

My mom didn't want me to enlist; she wants me to go to college in Europe. But this is what I want to do. When I tell people I'm working for the Air Force, that's the proudest thing I can say.


Jamie Gelormino
A 16-year-old high-school student in Long Island, Gelormino lost her stepfather, FDNY Lieutenant Geoffrey Guja. He was running toward the World Trade Center when it collapsed.

Nothing's the same. Nothing. Not even sitting here eating dinner is the same. He was a fireman, and all firemen are crazy -- they do nothing normal. Wherever we'd go, we'd always be the family that stuck out, the loudest, the ones that got noticed. Now we're the same as every other family and the world is so much quieter now.

I don't really talk to my friends about it. I was the only one in my school who had a close family member in there. One time in December, we were talking about it in my English class, and some kid said to me, "Don't you think you should be over it by now?" He wasn't affected by it whatsoever. I said, "That makes me so mad, because my father was jumping in there for people like you."

For a while, when I went to sleep, I would cry every night. I felt so guilty, you know? I felt like he didn't know that I loved him. I thought I didn't appreciate him, and that he died thinking I don't love him. There's no way for me now to let him know how much I really did.

Four years ago, while he was already a firefighter, he became an R.N. I remember how hard he was studying in the dining room. Geoff's birthday was two days ago. It was snowing. Me and my sister and my mom went to the cemetery for a little while. We sang "Happy Birthday" and we talked to him and we let balloons go in the air. The headstone just got put in this week. It says WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD.

It has definitely gotten harder. The other day, I was wondering if I'd ever forget what he looked like. I was passing the Manhattan skyline and trying to picture him in my head. I won't forget what he looks like or his voice. I won't forget any of that. I can't.

From the March 18, 2002 issue of New York Magazine.

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