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Sean Kirst: From unbearable loss on Sept. 11 to finding peace in 'nuances'

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As the world prepares to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the September 11th attacks, many of those who lost loved ones on that day say they don't need a milestone anniversary to stop and mourn.

Mark Morabito will spend this Sept. 11 quietly, with family. In 2016, he traveled to New York City to take part in a communal reading of the names of the lost, but his recovery from another heart attack, suffered only days ago, leaves him with little choice this weekend except for settling in at home.

Saturday will mark 20 years since the late summer morning when Morabito, now 59, drove his wife, Laura Lee DeFazio Morabito, to a Massachusetts car service that provided rides to Boston Logan International Airport. As Laura Lee climbed from their car to leave for a business trip, Morabito told her that he loved her. It was a seemingly casual moment he now considers his one gift from that day, because Laura Lee was about to board American Airlines Flight 11.

She was seated in the front of the plane, one of 92 passengers and crew on board, when hijackers acting on behalf of al-Qaida stormed the cockpit, then flew the aircraft into the north tower of the World Trade Center. Laura Lee was among almost 3,000 people who died as the result of the attacks in Manhattan, at the Pentagon and when another airliner crashed to earth in Shanksville, Pa.

“What I think about now,” Morabito said, “are nuances.”

He lives in Victor, near Rochester. He is only a few days removed from treatment at Strong Memorial Hospital, where his heart attack – and the tenuous aftermath – left him fearing last week that he would never have the chance to make it home. Dr. Eduardo Arazoza, a cardiologist who has treated Morabito for more than 15 years, spoke of how his patient has endured “numerous heart attacks,” open heart surgery and many other cardiac procedures.

Mark Morabito with his first wife, Laura Lee, who died Sept. 11, 2001.

“He’s beaten the odds,” Arazoza said, with admiration.

Morabito, intensely conscious of mortality and the velocity of time, said he has spent years contemplating the meaning of lasting remembrance and Sept. 11. He knows that an entire generation of Americans is too young for living memory of what happened on that day, which brings Morabito back to the........

© The Buffalo News

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