September 11 has been a bad day for pretty much my entire adult lifetime, but it didn’t start on that sunny morning in Manhattan 15 years ago. It started in college.
Laurie was one of my best friend. We pretty much did everything together throughout our university years, and we laughed at everyone — especially our own silly selves — along the way.
We pledged together. We were both English majors and had quite a few classes together. And we even scheduled our classes together for what we thought would be our very last semester together our senior year.
Laurie, though, didn’t make it back from Christmas break.
From birth, she was plagued with heart and lung problems. But you’d never know it. She was so full of life and laughter. Her Cheshire Cat grin brightened every room…all the while she left you wondering what kind of mischief she was going to get into next.
My last memory of her was the night before break started. We strung toilet paper from door to door on our floor, we got fined for making far too much noise after midnight…and we listened to the Pina Colada Song.
On a very cold Saturday in January, we lost Laurie after she hemorrhaged from a double-lung and heart transplant.
When I got the call that she was on her way to the hospital, I was so happy and so hopeful. She finally had the chance to live normally without worrying over every breath she took, or how cold it was outside. She wanted that transplant, and I wanted it for her.
We had plans. She told me she had to get well so that she could come to New York to see me. Over that Christmas break, we were both watching Another World, and two of the characters went on a literary tour of Greenwich Village. Laurie and I promised each other that we’d do that together.
But she was true to herself even in the end. She fought so hard through the operation, and she fought for two days afterward.
And I will never forget what my mother said to me the afternoon that Laurie passed. She cried, and I noticed she held me a lot tighter. She said, “I know you lost your best friend, but keep in mind her parents lost a daughter…and I can’t ever imagine losing you…”
Happy Birthday, Burnsie. September 11th took on a new meaning for me as life moved forward, but I never forgot your day — or the crazy memories of your birthdays while we were still lucky to celebrate them with you. I miss you every day, but I’m so glad that I had the chance to know you.
I love you, Burnsie. Now, go have a drink with my mom and give her a kiss from me.