In 2001, we lived in North Jersey at the end of a dead end street surrounded by Portuguese-American neighbors. We realized within a few months of moving in that the two closest neighbors were related; they were cousins. Over time, this warm, wonderful family welcomed us into their fold. We shared holidays, birthdays, summer Sangria… happy times.
I met Anthony sometime soon after we started integrating our lives with our neighbors’. Anthony was married to my neighbor’s sister and had a son the same age as my young daughter. They soon became fast friends and are still friends today.
I hit it off really well with Anthony because he moonlighted as a musician. A life-long bass player, he was playing in an Allman Brothers cover band. He was an incredibly nice guy. I could talk to him for hours about everything and nothing. We once made plans as couples to all meet in Manhattan and go to a comedy club, but we were all too busy to ever make that happen. I was a CMO at a dotcom startup and Anthony was a bond trader.
In August 2001, I had a gala backyard pool party to commemorate the end of summer. I actually called it my “End of Affluence Party,” as I had decided to quit working, move to south Jersey and become a stay-at-home Mom. I remember Anthony showing up to the party really late. He was a little disoriented because he said he didn’t feel well, and had been sleeping all day. He started telling me this fantastic story about how earlier in the week, a friend of his had magically arranged for him to get a back stage pass to see the Allman Brothers at NJ’s PNC Arts Center. He was amazed himself as he was telling the story, one thing after another led him to actually meeting Dickey Betts (or was it Duane Allman? I don’t remember, but I think it was Betts) and hanging out with him drinking, laughing, sharing stories with him in his show trailer. He said Dickey kept calling him, “Tony” (which he never called himself), but he said he didn’t mind and couldn’t believe he was even having this experience. Of course, he had been an Allman Brothers fan all his life, and this was surreal, a miracle.
The story always seemed really bizarre to me, like a dream.
Seventeen days later, Anthony went to work as usual arriving around 7:30 a.m. He spoke to his wife around 8:30 a.m. because she had found the door open when she woke up was scared. He told her he was sorry he was so far away. It was his daughter’s 7th birthday. He wished her a happy birthday. Moments later, a jet plane blasted into the 105st floor of the World Trade Center One where Anthony was working at Cantor Fitzgerald. His life was snuffed out by the most unimaginable hate crime America has ever endured on our soil.
No words can ever describe the pain and anguish felt by everyone who knew Anthony. We grieved deeply, profoundly over his loss and the tragedy that engulfed the nation over the events of 9/11, and even more so for Anthony and his family. I remember the neighborhood church had standing room only at his funeral service. I remember the fierceness of my embrace when I wept openly, deeply buried into my neighbor’s shoulder outside the church.
Whenever I hear an Allman Brothers Band song, I think of Anthony. It affirms my belief in a supernatural power who arranged a small miracle for a life taken well before his time.