Saturday, September 6, 2014

Aisle Walks and Dances

On this very date one year ago, I took what was both the longest and shortest walk of my life.  I accompanied Suzanne on her way down the aisle to where Ryan was waiting.  One year ago on this very date.   If I die tomorrow, I shall go to my grave feeling fulfilled.  I have lived long enough to see both of my children marry - it was three months ago today that Rob married Jess 'neath a sun-kissed sky over Point Pleasant Beach - and I have danced with my daughter at her wedding.

One year ago.  On this very date. 

Captain Brian Hickey, age forty-seven, had been a member of the FDNY for twenty years when he responded to the World Trade Center on the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001.  Captain Hickey commanded one of the FDNY's five elite Rescue units, Rescue 4, in Queens.  Three short months before his death, on Father's Day 2001, he had lost two of his men in a terrible fire in Astoria, Queens.   He, himself, had been badly injured that day - blown into a ceiling by an explosion.  His injuries had been severe enough that shortly before he rode into Hell on what turned out to be the final day of his life, he had completed just his second shift since returning from medical leave.  Captain Hickey's body was among those never recovered from Ground Zero. 

Captain Hickey and his high school sweetheart, Donna, had four children.  The eldest of his three sons, Danny was a twenty-three-year-old United States Marine at the time of his dad's death.  Middle son Dennis, who was eighteen, was a high school senior.  The youngest Hickey boy, Kevin, was only ten.

The fourth Hickey child was Captain Hickey's only daughter, Jackie.  Jackie was sixteen years old at the time of her father's death.  Too young for a walk down the aisle.  Too young for a father-daughter first dance. 

A reminder of just how goddamned unfair life is. 

-AK

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