DURING THE NEXT 4 DAYS,
Days Of Filming
her friends and family stood holding umbrellas, it felt
as though the heavens were crying for the unexpected
ending of this innocent woman's life. All Gabby ever
wanted was a family--a wonderful husband and kids of
her own. Suddenly, neither of her dreams would ever
be realized. At 32, Gabby's life came to a violent,
a tragic, and an unnecessary end.
came to a head. Richard and I found out about
more and more people we knew who were killed in
the attack--18 at my gym alone.
were told that Gabby's foot had been found, so
we attended her memorial and funeral on a very
sad, very rainy day.
In the meantime, Michele's family had an emotional breakdown.
In fact, Michele's younger sister, Cindy, had to be
treated with an anti-psychotic drug after becoming catatonic.
At one point, the situation became so intense that when
Dr. Gilda and I arrived at the house, Dominick, Cindy's
husband, had taken off all the door hinges to prevent
his wife from locking herself inside one of the rooms.
The family was concerned that Cindy may harm herself.
Michele's mother, who years earlier had undergone open
heart surgery, was not in good health even before the
attack. And now, Ethel was suddenly thrust into the
position of dealing not only with Michele's disappearance,
but with Cindy's condition, as well. Furthermore, Ethel
was now caring for all 3 of her grandchildren--Cindy's
2 daughters, Jackie and Nicolette, and Michele's son,
Nicholas, who still had no idea what had happened to
After that initial meeting with Shabbir's family, Thanbir
called me and asked if he could come along with my film
crew--which now consisted of Aaron, and me--on some of
the shoots with Nicholas' family. Over the next few days,
Thanbir learned a lot about cameras and sound equipment,
and he ultimately became an incredible assistant. I think
it was very important for him to just stay busy. Thanbir's
family was still mourning, and he had not yet dealt with
his own emotions. Thanbir's initial meeting with Michele's
family was uncomfortably awkward, but the family was aware
that this 16-year-old Muslim boy had lost his father,
and although Thanbir did not go into their house that
first day, they were all genuinely sympathetic. They were
still convinced, however, that Michele would return home.
and Thanbir instantly bonded--little did the 7-year-old
motherless child know, he and his new friend had
something unthinkably horrific in common. They were
both without a parent.
the schools began to reopen, the Muslim kids in Thanbir's
neighborhood began carrying guns because they were getting
tormented by some of the locals. In fact, even prior
to the attack, Thanbir had been called "Terrorist,"
by some of his classmates. Convinced that many of these
native New Yorkers were clueless about the details surrounding
the Attack on America, Thanbir decided to make his own
September 11th video for a school assignment, which
was later honored with the "Most Creative School Project"
award. During some down time on one of our shoots, Thanbir
asked Nicholas to assistant him with his video. So while
I talked to Michele's family, the two boys were off
to Nick's favorite bakery--the location he'd chosen
for his new Muslim friend's movie short titled, "Devoted."
This was a particularly happy time for Nicholas. He
laughed and played and ate far too many pastries--but
all of that was about to change.