It's 9:00 am and I've just gotten to the office. It's a beautiful clear and sunny morning here in New York. Eerily similar to that same day seven years ago when tragedy struck.
I still remember every moment of that day vividly. James calling me in the office to tell me the news. The mass hysteria surrounding the immediate confusion. Looking out my window and seeing the giant plumes of black smoke envelop the sky. Finally realizing the epic nightmare of what was happening to our beloved city.
I remember hitting the redial button on my phone every two seconds, frantically trying to reach you at your office or on your cell phone. I remember driving around to hospitals all night in New Jersey with our friends, praying that we'd find you in one of them. I remember staying up all night together as we all anxiously waited for the good news that would never come.
All of it seems like just yesterday.
It doesn't surprise me that I can remember so much of that time. You were one of my closest friends and, as a group, it seemed like we spent every single one of our free moments together: evenings, weekends, vacations. When were we ever apart? Even when we all had girlfriends, we were an inseparable group of friends.
So it scared me this week when I was thinking about you and I realized that I was having a hard time remembering every detail about you. What was your cellphone number? Were you a lefty? What was that screenplay you wrote about? Which of the many times down in Miami was it when we laughed our asses off because you got sunburn on your head? How many joint birthday parties did we throw together? How could I not remember these things?
Then I remind myself that those are things that don't matter. Not in the slightest. The only things that matter are that you were one of my closest friends, that I loved you and that your life was tragically cut short.
I still can't believe it's been seven years.
I think it's partly because, out of the past seven years, this one feels like the longest. We lost Sofia's dad this year after a long battle with cancer. We spent the entire summer going back and forth to make more memories with him. The proximity to his death always made me think of you.
I would have loved to have made more memories with you. All I have are the ones from our time together. Wednesday night dinners with you and Kyle every week. All those weekend trips where we crashed on Roy's floor in Miami. The countless rounds of hungover golf. Chinese food every Sunday while watching the Giants game. The birthday parties. The New Year's Eve parties. The times at the beach houses we all rented together every summer. It seemed as if we never had a middle gear.
I guess that's what life in your 20's is all about.
Meanwhile, it's mind-boggling to me that I'm about to celebrate my 40th birthday in a few months. I've got a wife, a child, a serious job, and an even more serious mortgage. I don't play pick-up basketball anymore because it takes too much out of my body. If I sleep in a funny position, my back will be sore for days. And when I look in the mirror, I see wrinkles and creases that make me feel every single one of those 40 years.
But you'll always remain that beautiful, happy-go-lucky guy in his late 20's who always had a smile on his face and a kind word for everyone. There's something oddly comforting in the fact that that's how I'll always remember you.
I hope you're looking down on all of us and still smiling, Andy. I know I still laugh when I see us. Our group of friends (whom you always lovingly referred to as "la famiglia") has certainly gotten older. Russell is exactly the same lovable clown that he always was. Shary has turned into a Persian baby-making machine. Roy has an enormous clan down in Miami still. David finally got married. Of course, Kyle is still single. He spent the past year in L.A. and we all know what a year in L.A. does to that guy. All in all, we don't see each other as much as we used to but, whenever we do, you're always there with us.
I miss you terribly, Andy. These days, thinking of you always puts a smile on my face. You were such an important part of our past that you'll always be a part of our future. I think, after seven long years, I've finally come to terms with losing you. More than anything, I'm not as angry as I used to be. Maybe I'm mellowing with age.
But every year on 9/11, I swear that I'm not going to cry, mourn or bury myself in a bottle of scotch. Unfortunately, ever year, I end up failing miserably. This year, I think I'm finally ready to mourn you by celebrating the amazing love you had for life. I know that's what you would have wanted.
But more than anything, I just want you to know that I'm thinking about you. I always have and I always will.
Rest in peace, Andy.
Your friend Pierre