Mark Morabito is recovering from a cardiac procedure where his doctor just placed the 24th stent into his failing arteries. Those sophisticated medical implements are what keep his broken heart ticking. His heart and soul has done some considerable healing over the last five years. He went from being the husband of the woman who was sitting in the first row or the first plane into the first tower on September 11th to a newlywed husband and father. Then the phone rang today. It was the New York City Medical Examiner's Office.
A woman named Kristen was on the other end. Coincidentally that is the name of Mark's wife of two years. The Medical Examiner had news for Mark about his wife Laura Lee. They had determined that some of the remains they were carefully sifting through from Ground Zero were hers. Even though he had received three such calls before, Mark could hardly believe he was getting this call.
Last he knew the 9/11 DNA testing had ended. Mark had come to believe whatever precious elements were left of the victims would be buried as one in the September 11th Memorial. He was wrong. A small fragment of Laura instead will be coming home to Mark. The same funeral director will again shepherd the remains of her body after her explosive murder at the hands of terrorists.
"It's tough to know your loved one's remains are still out there," said Morabito. "It's very difficult." The news triggers a flood of memories and emotion. Just eleven days ago, Morabito spent September 11th alone for the first time in twelve years. He took time to watch, for the first time, a rebroadcast of the events of September 11th, 2001. That is painful task for a man who knows personally one of the first of some 3,000 victims on that day. "Just knowing Laura was in that first plane going in," explained Morabito. "There one second. And gone the next."
Morabito does not want to publicly reveal what happened to Laura's body that day after the collision with the Tower. The speed and impact of a airliner striking a skyscraper was physically devastating. That explains the disbursement of the remains of the victims on board.
The first time Mark Morabito took such a call from the Medical Examiner was on September 12, 2006. That is when new DNA technology confirmed the discovery of his wife's remains. That was also the time when her custom made wedding ring was returned to him.
It was his second wedding, two years ago, that has brought joy to Morabito's life again. His wife Kristen and their little girl who just entered kindergarten are about to return to the Finger Lakes region after recently living in Saratoga.
On a day where the past was upsetting Morabito chokes back tears as he talks about life in the present. He acknowledges he has been blessed twice with wonderful women in his life. While he recovers, yet again, from a failing cardiovascular system he appreciates life. "I'm very happy, as happy as I can be."