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Moises Rivas first met Elizabeth at a local beauty pageant in Queens, where he was the lead singer of a band. He had made a $50 bet with another band member that he would get her to go out with him. When he finished singing he came down from the stage and started talking to me,’ Elizabeth recalled, according to an article in the New York Times. ‘He asked for my phone number. Two weeks later we were going out, and we were still together six years later.’
Moises Rivas had big dreams. He and Elizabeth were married and had two children, Moises Jr., 4, and Moesha, 2. At age 29, he wanted to be the next Emeril, so he took a job as a chef at Windows on the World. He also wanted to be the next Ricky Martin, so he wrote songs and became lead singer for a band that had recorded a CD.
“‘And, boy, he knew how to dance,’ his wife said. ‘He had some kind of moves. He could attract any girl. He was so-o-o cute. I just wish he could come back. I wish he was with me right now. It’s the only thing I wish.’ “There was another woman, his mother in Ecuador. ‘She couldn’t see him for 10 years because he was in New York, and then when she came up here after Sept. 11, she couldn’t see him either,’ Elizabeth said.”
Moises Rivas was working as a staff cafeteria cook on the top floor of the North Tower on September, 11, 2001 when American Airlines Flight 11 slammed into the building. He was another one of those whose life was moving long normal and happy, gutted in a single instance by purveyors of hatred who didn’t even know him. One moment, he was frying eggs, the next, he was deciding between leaping into an inferno or leaping to the sidewalks of Manhattan 1200 feet below.
Before the building collapsed that day, Moises was able to make one final, desperate call to his family. His stepdaughter, Linda, answered the phone. Elizabeth, his wife, was out doing laundry. When Elizabeth heard the news about the World Trade Center attacks, she called home. This was her account:
“So I called Linda and said, ‘Linda, did Moises call?’ And she said, ‘Yes, not to worry, he is okay. He said he loves you no matter what happens. He loves you. That’s it.’”
Moises never had a chance to call again. Despite the chaos around him, he reached out to those he loved for one last message.
Love: That powerful emotion we often forget, but which ultimately supercedes all others, and dominates our final thoughts and feelings when we know our fate is sealed. Doesn’t matter if you’re American or Ecuadorian, white, brown or black, gay, straight, tall, short, rich or poor. Moises was about to die, and he thought about love.