Dear Jeff Nussbaum,
I have a confession to make. I fumbled the ball on your tribute. After hearing so much about this 2,996 project (an effort assigning bloggers to write tributes to those who died five years ago on 9/11) I finally thought I should sign up, late in the game. But when I entered my name, a response came up that my blog already had an assignment! I was mortified; I didn’t remember doing that. As it turns out, I had been among the earlier ones to sign on.
I had to go to the list to see who it was I had been “randomly” assigned. It’s such a long, long list. In the widely published and always alphabetical version, you are just after Jose R. Nunez and right before James A. Oakley. And so I found you... that is, us, you and me brought together by this project of remembrance (all the more ironic since I had forgotten that I signed up). Seeing your picture shocked me into realizing how close I had come to letting you down, not remembering, not showing up.has said that you were good with any kind of ball… “basketball, baseball, tennis, golf.” She said it sickened your friends :) but to me it's reassuring; you know what it is to fumble the ball, regain it, and score in the end.
In 2004, with the third anniversary of 9/11 approaching, Melissa wrote that she had another boy on the way, and that you would be thrilled if you knew:
When I look into my son's baby blue eyes, I am saddened that they will never look into Uncle Jeff's big blue eyes again. My older brother would be thrilled to know that another boy is on the way. I hope that my two sons will laugh as loudly together as only Craig and Jeff did. When my 4-year-old sings, dances, swims and plays ball, I am reminded of Jeff and his love of being (in) the center of the action.Your mom, Arline, was much in the news when you were killed; the story of your last conversations with her have been repeated throughout the world, quoted in sermons - both Jewish and Christian - and published in English, German, French and Spanish.
His first phone call to me was before 9 o'clock. I had just heard on the radio about the plane when the phone rang. “Are you okay?'' I asked. “No, call 911. We can't breathe. The rooms are filling up with smoke, and the sprinkler systems have gone off.''She has a record of each and every call.
He told me they're knee deep in water and there's black smoke -- they can hardly see and they're having difficulty breathing. “Call 911,” he told me. Then he hung up. I called the 911 here in Long Island, and they put me through to the NYC 911, and I told her where people were alive, and this was what my son was saying to me.
In the second phone call, he told me they were 45 of them together. He said they're overlooking the river. He said, “We broke the windows, so at least we could breathe.'' I heard men yelling. I did not hear any of the girls' voices. I know one of the girls was a very good friend, and they were like brother and sister, and I am sure they would have stayed close.
He asked, “What's taking the F.D. so long to get here?''
The fellows in the background were giving me telephone numbers to call. Then he says, “I'm hanging up, I've got to call 911 again.”
His third phone came just after the first tower went down. He said, “Mom, what was that explosion?'' I said, “The other tower just went down.'' He said, “Oh, my God. I love you,'' and the phone went dead.
"He called his brother [Craig] at 8:49 and left a message on his machine," she said.Everyone knows you let Andy Friedman use your cell phone – an act of kindness - so he could speak to his wife, Lisa.
"The first call to me was 8:56.
At 9:03, he called 911.
At 9:06 he called 911.
Then he called me back at 9:12.
At 9:55, he called 911.
"His third phone call to me is not on here," Nussbaum continued. "I don't know whether he called me at 10 o'clock or 10:05, and that's when I told him. . .the other tower went down" and that the Pentagon had been attacked. Finally, he understood.
My husband had been working there for two weeks. He was starting an equities desk. He called me at 9:16. Actually, someone else placed this call, and said, “Is this Mrs. Friedman? I have Andrew for you.''You see, what happened was… a plane – American Airlines Flight 11 – struck the building you were in, the north tower, hitting from the 93rd floor all the way up to the 98th. You were on the 92nd floor, just below the crash. No one survived on your floor.
I could hear coughing in the background. He sounded totally calm. He said, “Lis, we're in a room together, we have plenty of air.''
I said, “I love you.'' That was pretty much the whole conversation.
Above … were 1,344 people, many of them alive, stunned, unhurt, calling for help. Not one would survive. Below … thousands of others were also alive, stunned, unhurt, calling for help. Nearly all of them lived.One account says that you and your colleagues in the Carr Futures offices didn’t realize that you were “on the wrong side of the rubble.”
Your building was the first hit, but the south tower - struck 16 minutes later - was first to collapse. That’s what your mom had seen on television that last time you spoke with her.
On the north tower's 92nd floor, one floor below the crash, 69 employees from Carr Futures found themselves trapped. Most, perhaps all, survived the crash. But, in phone calls to loved ones, the employees reported that the stairwells were impassable.It wasn’t until 10:28 that your building collapsed. If I were your loved one - your mom, your big brother or your little sister - it would be those last 20, 25, minutes that would haunt me. No one knows exactly what that was like for you.
They crowded together in corner rooms as the floor filled with smoke. People appear to have lived until the building fell. By phone, a mother told her son that the south tower had collapsed.
Carr [Futures] was .. below the impact, and everyone there had survived it; yet they could not get out. Between 10:05 and 10:25, videos show, fire spread westward across the 92nd floor's north face, bearing down on their western refuge.But your mom held out hope for the longest time.Newsday:
Reason tells Nussbaum that her son has most likely perished. Yet she hopes. It is why she has so far declined a request for a visit from her rabbi.Eventually she had to “think that way.” I hope the rabbi did come then, and I hope he was able to comfort and strengthen her. You’ll be glad to know that friends of yours, people she didn’t know, “called and offered assistance in innumerable ways and … consoled her with tales of [your] caring nature.” It’s no wonder; since you seem to have been so incredibly warm and outgoing:
"I'm hoping he's laying in a hospital in a coma [or] with amnesia... He's there as a John Doe," she said of her son. "But if the rabbi came, it means my son is 100 percent dead, and I can't think that way."
Arline Nussbaum, who shared a home with her son, described him as a friendly, gregarious man, the sort who drew people to him. "If he went into a club and there were 350 people, 300 of them came over to say, 'Hi, Jeff.' By the time he left he knew the other 50," she said, allowing a bit of joy to creep into her voice.Did you know they called you “The Mayor of the Hamptons”?
Jeffrey Nussbaum's friends called him the Mayor of the Hamptons. After 10 or 12 summers there, he knew more people than many meet in a lifetime. "If there were 300 people in a bar," said Arline Nussbaum, his mother, "he knew 200." Friends say he liked to get one group together with another — and then introduce the combined group to a third. Given another 10 or 15 years, he might well have managed to introduce one half of the Hamptons to the other.Your sister Melissa was quoted in the New York Times:
"He was really, really social," said Mrs. Brunschwig. "We were shopping together in Secaucus. We went to two stores and he met people he knew in each. Everywhere he went — everywhere — he knew people. And if he didn't, he'd meet them."
It’s so odd, I didn’t know you, but now I will never forget you. I’ll always know that you were “a big man – 6 foot-4, 230 pounds,” a “die-hard New Yorker,” that you worked as a senior currency trader for Carr Futures and lived in Oceanside, NY. I will always know that you were 37 years old when you were killed.
This scant tribute cannot possibly do justice to your life. Nevertheless, I have set it to post automatically on Monday morning, September 11th, at 10:28 a.m., the moment the north tower collapsed, the moment beyond which you could not have survived. On Monday, too, I will say kaddish for you, according to Jewish custom. I will think of your mom Aline, your sister Melissa and your brother Craig, and the little nephew you never got to meet.
I’ll think of the city whose life was intertwined with yours ...
and the beach towns, not far away, where you were "mayor."
I will remember you.
When Jews die, their family and friends often pray that their souls be bound to the eternal bond of life. I know that for you, that prayer has been answered. You are remembered by the people who knew and loved you well and by countless strangers -including myself- who didn’t know you at all. And beyond even that, you are remembered as part of the history of our great nation.
For all of us, your memory is a blessing.
"Everywhere he went — everywhere — he knew people. And if he didn't, he'd meet them."
G-d willing, I will meet you in Gan Eden.