A few small details to tidy up.
I ask Bill if he’s up to reading this to factually verify my telling of his account.
He says sure, and reads it. He tells me that, yes, I have pretty much captured his experiences of that day, although he would have told the narrative somewhat differently. That’s more of a stylistic issue than a factual one, he says.
He does mention a few things which we hadn’t previously discussed. It turns out that during the entire ordeal, I was the only one able to get through to him. Not just once, but several times, when no one else could. (thank redial, I tell him).
Secondly, he had omitted to tell me that Tuesday the 11th was his 13th Anniversary. “I kept thinking ‘Lucky 13!’ Happy Anniversary” as I was running around,” he says.
My wedding anniversary was two days later, on Thursday the 13th. He asked me what I did. We went out for a slice of pizza, came home and watched the news. Not our usual joyous celebration, which we decided to postpone for a month.
On top of everything else, we have a black tie wedding at the Pierre Hotel in NYC Saturday night (9/15). My wife’s cousin. I am very reluctant to go. “How can we listen to music? How can we drink or dance?”
I acquiesce to my wife’s request, though I am filled with great trepidation. I usually defer, as she has better judgment than I on most matters.
We drive into the city, and as we approach the mid-town tunnel, you can see the hole in the skyline. They’re just missing. The Towers were always a counter-balance to the rest of the NY Skyline. Of course, its still gorgeous, but now has a bitter sweet sadness to it . . .
To make matters worse, even though its five days later, the area is still smoldering. A large plume of white smoke still rises from lower Manhattan. I think that if they ever put a memorial up, it should include an eternal waft of smoke, so as to never forget what was wrought here.
We get to the hotel, valet the car, and go in. We are seated in the chapel as a string quartet plays. Jewish weddings never start on time (figure an extra half hour before it starts). The last Christian wedding we went to, we were three minutes late and nearly missed it.
The lovely string quartet plays as the waiting drags on for 45 minutes. I cannot help but be reminded of that scene from Titanic.
My mind wanders as we wait. I go over small details, coincidences, luck, fate. I think of earlier this spring, of a point/counterpoint article I wrote half of. I had taken one side, arguing that the market had bottomed. The counterpoint was written by a great guy named Bill Meehan, the chief market analyst at Cantor Fitzgerald.
After its published, my counterpart (as if I could really call him that, for he is really far, far more experienced and senior to me professionally) and I start discussing our opposing viewpoints, which turned out after all to be not so opposing. The articles lead to email correspondence, then a few phone calls. We learn we have mutual acquaintances (small world!). We decide to get together for a beer, but are thwarted twice — once when he gets a last minute call to appear on CNNfn, and once when some minor New Zealand problem erupts in my office.
I begin to wonder: what if we met, and hit it off? What if we liked each other, and he recruited me to his firm? To the 105th floor? A million “What ifs” come to mind. I share these morbid thoughts with my wife, who orders me to snap out of it (she’s a smart girl).
The ceremony begins, and the Rabbi has some very interesting comments. He tells of how the bride and groom agonized over canceling the Wedding, postponing the reception. To help them come to a decision, he told them a story out of the Torah (the old testament), which he proceeds to share with us.
Two processions, a funeral and wedding party, each come to an intersection at the exact same moment. They await there, not sure who should go first. The answer is in the Torah, he tells us. The Wedding procession has the right of way. “It is an affirmation that Life must go on.”
The service is heartfelt and very sincere.
At the reception, we meet friends and relatives. We talk about the turnout — 250 people. The only ones who didn’t make it were from out of town, those who couldn’t get a flight. We even speak about how not coming would have been letting “them” win.
We eat, we drink, we listen to the band. Later, we even dance.