It's been five years. 1,826 days.
There are times I really still can't believe it actually happened.
The above picture is my friend Joyce Carpeneto, who I got to know from the 4 years I worked with her at Tower Records in Greenwich Village, and another 2 1/2 at a music distribution company called TRIP. She was lost to all of us who loved her forever on the morning of September 11, 2001, along with 2,748 other brave souls at the World Trade Center.
One of my friends put it very simply about Joyce, "If you knew her, you loved her." If you didn't, there was something clearly wrong with you. I may not have known Joyce the best, but I always considered her a dear friend. She helped me in so many ways when we worked together. I miss her silly laugh, optimistic attitude about life, and her bright smile.
I've done many things to remind the world that this was a special person who is gone from this life. Joyce will live in my heart forever, and I know that where she is now, she has been rewarded. Everyone who loved her misses her terribly and very deeply, and will never, ever forget her.
I am better for having had Joyce Carpeneto as a part of my life, if only for 16 short years.
On October 19, 2001, I completed a memorial for Joyce, as I felt in my heart I had to write something for her. I put the memorial at the wonderful web site, September 11, 2001 Victims, and I received emails from people all over the world who had to write to me to tell me how much they were touched by my words.
Here is the memorial I wrote:
Here's the text of the speech I wrote for Joyce. I just opened my heart and these words came out:
"Our Joyce: A Dear Sweet Friend"
In the summer of 1985, I been working for the Tower Records store in Greenwich Village for about nine months. I soon met the newest "Front Desk Girl", a 24 year old, brown haired, brown eyed girl from Long Island. Her name was Joyce Carpeneto.
Joyce and I became fast friends. Her warmth and kindness shown through almost immediately. In late 1985, our store was undergoing a management change, and Joyce gave me one of the nicest compliments I have ever gotten. One day she said to me, "You should be managing this store". And I was just a rock floor clerk! I really believe that Joyce had more faith in me than I had in myself.
Joyce and I worked together in the Tower Village store for over 4 years. She eventually moved downstairs to the cassette department and I became the rock CD buyer. We both became supervisors and we closed many nights together. I remember many times Joyce would come to me with a problem and I was only to happy to help her.
Joyce left the store for TRIP (Tower Records Import Product) in 1990 and I left as well at the end of that year. I too landed at TRIP in early 1991, and I was very fortunate to have Joyce already there. She was a rep, and I became her assistant. I covered the Tower stores at the Village and Carle Place, LI for her. I was a bit nervous taking over the job, as I wasn't sure if I'd fit in. Joyce made it easy for me, as she showed me the ropes and introduced me to a lot of the people I'd have to deal with in the new job. It was wonderful to share an office with her. One Friday, Joyce and Barbara Lang, our other rep, were discussing where to send me the next week.
I covered stores for both of them on a rotation basis. On this day they both needed me the next week. So in the middle of all of this, Joyce turns to me and says, "Don't you love the fact you have two women fighting over you?" I could only laugh and smile, and when I think of that story, it will always make me smile and remember Joyce's wonderful sense of humor.
By mid-1993 TRIP (or MTS Sales as it became known) merged with another company, and Joyce was let go. It was terribly unfair to her, but she didn't let it get her down. Joyce picked herself up, dusted herself off, and joined Tower's Art Department. I discovered that she was a very talented artist, and I saw her work in many of the Tower stores.
After the MTS position ended, Joyce and I would always run into each other in places like the Village Record and Village Video store. It was always a pleasure to see her and talk about what was going on in our lives and reminisce about the old days. All of my memories of Joyce are fond ones, and and will remain that way for the rest of my life. Together, and with many of our Tower friends, we enjoyed art shows, Tower parties and bowling after work. It was so much fun, and it all seems like just yesterday.
The weeks since the tragedy have been the longest, and without question, the saddest time of my life. For all of us who love and care for her, Joyce will always be a special part of our lives. She will always have a special place in my heart, and a day will not go by that I will not think of her.
In the days following the tragedy, Joyce's mom and Russ Giffen set up a website looking for more information about her. The first time I saw it I burst into tears. The picture of Joyce was just stunning, and the words included on it were incredibly poignant: "If you knew her you had to be her friend. She loves everyone." I cannot improve on those words. Just incredibly beautiful.
And all of us loved you, Joyce.
I thank God that Joyce Ann Carpeneto came into my life. She's one of the most dearest, sweetest people I have ever known, or will ever know. We are all better for having her friendship, kindness and support. I will always remember her beautiful smile and her wonderful laugh. She will always live in my heart, and no one can ever take that away from me.
Back when we worked in the Tower store in Greenwich Village in the 1980s, I always felt that Joyce and I were part of an extended family with all of our other friends who worked there. Now, one of our family is no longer with us. So we grieve for our missing sister, in the hope that she has found peace.
I will always love Joyce for the rest of my life. No matter where I go, she'll always be with me.
She'll always be Our Joyce. She'll always be Our Cookie. And now, Joyce will forever be Our Angel.
John Brian Quinn
October 19, 2001
Please drop me an e-mail to let me know your thoughts. I would be honored if any of you would pass this along to any other of Joyce's friends. Thank you so much.
All the best
On New Year's Night, I sat down and wrote a poem that night that would alter my life in ways that I could never have imagined. I wrote about a visit I made to Ground Zero that past November with my friend Deborah. I eventually put it on September 11, 2001 Victims as well, and I got even emails from people around the world, and I have become friends with many of those kind folks.
Here is the poem I wrote that night:
THERE'S AN ANGEL WATCHING OVER US
By John Quinn
This poem is dedicated to my dear sweet friend Joyce Ann Carpeneto, who is always and forever in my heart.
It's a gray, overcast day
In late November
The fourth time I've been
Down this way
The pain in my heart rises
As soon as I walk out
The subway station
But I had to be here for you
I'm not afraid to be here
Because I know
There's an Angel watching over us.
Our eyes fill with tears
Pictures line the walls
And the picket fences
Thousands of dreams
Shattered in an instant
A soft rain starts to fall
Could it have been sent
To show us both
The depth of your love
And the tears still within you
It's an unmistakable sign
There's an Angel watching over us.
Loved ones write their own
Words of sorrow and grief
On a huge makeshift sheet
I struggle through my tears
To tell you those precious words
I couldn't tell you
When you were here
In this life
Now the rain and the tears
Have both left together
And the sun peeks
Through the clouds
Now I am so confident
There's an Angel watching over us.
I've been down this way
Three times before
But this will be the last
Time I come down here
The heartache for me
Is just too great
Seeing that terrible site
Where you left this world
I'd rather remember
The good times we shared
You'll always be
Safe in my heart Sweetie
I'll never break
The Promise I made to you
On the Brooklyn Bridge
You'll always be alive
In my heart forever
I'll never be afraid to die
Because I'll see you again
One day I know
And that because from above
There's an Angel watching over me.
John Brian Quinn
January 2, 2002.
God bless you all.
I will be at the ceremonies at Ground Zero on Monday morning. It will be another sad pilgrimage for me, my friend Deborah, and thousands of other people who lost loved ones five years ago. We will never forget that they are all heroes, as well as victims. We will never let the world forget that these were very special people, and they will live in the hearts of their loved ones forever.
Please don't forget to pray for all those brave heroes who gave their lives that fateful morning, for their families who go on without them, as well as our servicemen and women who risk their lives every day for our freedom.
For me, Joyce will be forever missed.
And of course, forever loved.