Project 2,996 – Laurence Christopher Abel
I stopped by the blog this year and realized that the link to my original post was gone. In memory of Laurence, I still wanted to give this tribute a home. God Bless.
I can read the weathered faces all around me, and there’s a number of people who look like they’re willing to contribute two cents to any conversation, but this time of year it always feels a little different. A little more personal, a little more in-depth, and a lot more, “Here’s my story.” These people are all looking to unload their heavy baggage onto the most unsuspecting of sky caps. They are all trying to empathize, when really they should be handing out sympathy.
The cold hard truth of the matter is that I don’t want to hear these stories, and I don’t quite feel up to sharing mine. Forget all about where you were, or what you felt the urge to run out and do. Forget about me, and the song I wrote, or the buttons that I made. We don’t matter today, at least not in comparison. What really matters is the number 2,996. That’s how many people never got the chance to answer the small talk, chatter question of “Where were you on September 11th?”
In the last couple of years, there have been numerous new stories, books, movies, songs, speeches, and poems. All of them written in hope to remember and pay tribute to those who lost their lives that day. There should be, and will be more to come. I think the importance of these tributes is to somewhat provide an answer to that question, for all those that took on the new responsibility of becoming angels that day, and to make it stick.
One of these Angels is Laurence Christopher Abel, a bond analyst who worked for Cantor Fitzgerald. Abel was one hundred floors up, in the north tower of the world trade center, when that day’s chaos started. Sadly, at the end of it, he was also inside the building. To me, he seemed like a regular guy. He not only liked to play tennis, basketball and golf, but he also let that love of sports turn him into an avid play station gamer. Abel was also described as a car enthusiast, who had just purchased a new Honda Accord the year before and considered it to be his baby.
Being a regular guy is something that Laurence shared with many of his fellow 9/11 angels and part of being a regular guy means that you’re not so regular to your family and friends. To measure the impact one person can make, you needn’t look further than the guest book created for those grieving the loss of a loved one at legacy.com. While most of the entries are from strangers like myself, and a few are from friends and relatives, my eyes teared when reading the handful posted by Miss Beverly Williams, Abel’s longtime girlfriend. Williams has left an entry every year to say “Happy Birthday,” as well as to say that she misses and loves him. There’s a Valentine’s day entry, a few 9/11 anniversary posts, and one that makes mention of the beginning of football season. All of these messages are connected by the amount of love Laurence and Beverly were able to provide one another, and there’s certainly nothing regular about that.
I have the utmost respect for Miss Williams. To bear her soul and share her feelings, on such a personal matter, in such a public way shows the strength and courage that has come to symbolize, not only the angels that were born on September 11, 2001, but also the survivors they left behind. My deepest thoughts and prayers go out to Beverly and the whole Abel family, as well as to everyone else who is still trying to cope with a loss they suffered that day.
These are the people that matter. These are the stories I will listen to. You’re welcome to ask me for my two cents, but that doesn’t mean I’ll give it to you and it doesn’t mean that I’ll set down my baggage, because in comparison to what some other people are carrying, I don’t matter.