My Friend Maggie

Have I ever mentioned my friend Maggie?

Maybe not in my blog, but on most days, her name comes up.

Maggie is one of those friends you meet later in life.  Right when you start thinking you have made all of your life long friends.

I met Maggie at a funeral in September of 2001.

Her longtime boyfriend, Jeff Coale was working at Windows on the World as an Assistant Cellar Master.  He was a beautiful person:  sincere, kind, compassionate and warm.  Everyone who worked with him took an instant liking to him.  He was intelligent and gentle, excited about the possibilities that wine had to offer.

Jeffrey was killed on September 11th, 2001.

Not to be known as anything but professional, Jeff always came to work early, ready to perform and start the day perfectly so everyone else would benefit by his diligence.

Unfortunately, Jeff came to work early every day, even on the morning of September 11th.

I remember talking to his girlfriend Maggie on the afternoon of September 11th.  She was trying to figure out if there was some possibility of him being anywhere else besides in the demolished towers.

I don’t remember saying anything that could have been comforting.  I don’t remember saying anything that made any sense.

Two weeks later, Stephen and I drove to a town outside of Philadelphia to celebrate the short life of Jeffrey Coale.  I remember walking into the church where I proceeded to cry until I couldn’t cry anymore.

I don’t have many regrets in life, but I will say, one I do have, is not standing up to speak about Jeff at his funeral.  You see, most people who spoke were high school or college friends or family who had known Jeff for quite a long time.

While I had only known him briefly, I knew what he was trying to learn as an assistant cellar master.  I knew what he had given up in hopes of starting a career that was magical.   I knew that he had thrown caution to the wind to live a dream, a dream that wouldn’t make you rich, a dream that would make you tired, but a dream that would satisfy so many senses and so many ambitions.

After the funeral, I looked for Maggie, the longtime girlfriend I hadn’t met yet I had heard so much about.  Right when I met her, I felt as if I had known her forever.

I’ll never forget the words she spoke to me that day when I said I would like to meet her parents.

Maggie said:

“My parents were killed in a plane crash when I was very young, but I would love to introduce you to my aunt and uncle, who raised me after they were killed.”

Words cannot describe that feeling.  That sickening feeling when one learns not only has someone lost their love, but they have also lost their original loves, the ones who loved them first.

Maggie is special.  I knew it then, and I know it now.

She said something to me once that I quote all of the time.  “You look to the left, and you find someone who has it better.  You look to the right and you find someone who has it worse.”

Right you are, ole Maggie, but how many people understand that?

I met Maggie almost 10 years ago at Jeff’s funeral.

She is one of my closest friends, although I maybe see her once a year.

Thanks to the world of text, email, facebook, etc., we can continue our conversations about life.

On Sunday night, Stephen woke me up to say my mom had called, and Osama Bin Laden had been killed.  The irony  being, my mother was also the same person to wake me up to tell me the Twin Towers had been hit by airplanes.

Monday morning came, but I didn’t feel any different.  Nothing in my heart seemed to change because a man had been killed.  A man who had killed so many.  A man who is said to be responsible for so many deaths.

Stephen told me on Monday morning he had texted Maggie, saying he wished we could be together to drink a glass of wine.

Maggie writes to me tonight, “the sky is beautiful and blue, flowers bloom in colors only God could create and children’s giggles warm our hearts.”

Maggie is my hero.  She overcomes.  She prevails.  She leads by being an example of forgiveness and strength.  When bad things happen, I think about her infinite wisdom.  I think about someone who has been hurt so much yet one who still lives life to the fullest.

Osama Bin Laden died on Sunday night, almost 10 years after the attacks on the United States.  Him dying didn’t take away any of the pain I felt 10 years ago, and it won’t bring back any lives who were lost on that tragic morning.  It hurts like hell to think about that day and the people who left us because of it.

It also hurts to think about a life where I wasn’t friends with a girl named Maggie, a girl who has shown me brightness and continues to show me brightness no matter how dark my world is.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • erin

    very touching. your words bring tears to my eyes, as i reflect on how strong maggie is. i love the fact that people can overcome; people can look at the positive in life and live in a happy place. i haven’t known you long, inie, but every time i see you, your smile and cheerful disposition brightens the room. you and maggie have a lot of the same characteristics, and i am grateful for the friendship we have :) happy early mother’s day.

  • cynthia s. boylan

    So beautiful – just like you and Maggie.

    love you to the moon and back,


  • Frances Liverman

    Such beautiful words!! I don’t know Maggie, but I do know you and you are beautiful all the way thru. Love you!!

  • Susan LaRossa

    Love you, Inie. Thank you for this wonderful post. I hope you can come out to west Sonoma County on your next trip out West to visit!!! xoxo, Susan

  • Richard Chew

    I’d only encountered Jeff a few times; you know how us busy bartenders were… no time to really get to know our fellow co workers. But I do remember him being kind and sincere, then learned more about him from articles and obituaries. Thanks for sharing Inez – somehow this blog completes a picture of Jeff. It was great working with him!

  • Donna Herman

    I was at church this morning. Everyone was given a tag with the name of someone who died on that tragic day. I was given a tag with the name Jeffrey Coele and that he was originally from Souderton, PA. There was a huge book at the church that showed the names and biographies of those who died and photo. I looked up Jeffrey Coale and saw his name, biography and photo. I will always treasure this tag with his name.