(originally published 9/11/06)
I’m putting this up early because I refuse to let the WWF trivialize the lives of my friends and my countrymen.
We all know the story of how they and so many others died on that day, but we must never forget how these wonderful people lived, either. John and Sylvia adored life, and they adored each other. They were so deeply in love and so happy together. Newsday tells the story of their engagement
Halloween, with its orange candy, spooky costumes and family fun, is not generally considered a romantic holiday. But since John Resta and Sylvia San Pio Resta met five years ago today at an office costume party, Halloween had always been about romance for them.
Two Halloweens ago, on the third anniversary of their meeting, John, 40, stayed home from work and rented a tuxedo. He bought flowers, lit candles and set the table with a stone crab dinner specially flown in from Sylvia’s favorite restaurant in Miami. When Sylvia, 27, got back to the couple’s Bayside apartment, he got down on his knees and proposed.
In August of 2000 they were married in Hazlet at the Catholic school that John had graduated from. Their reception was held at the Molly Pitcher Inn in Red Bank, which is far and away the nicest place for a wedding reception in the area. And boy did John and Sylvia have a great party: the weather was perfect, and from cocktails out on the deck overlooking the river to dinner and dancing inside every guest spent the evening laughing and basking in the glow of the newlyweds. We sat at a table with a mix of their family friends and business associates and just had a great time passing stories about the couple, which seems to be required at weddings. Sylvia had this habit of reading cookbooks on the train from cover to cover, as if they were mysteries, and we would kid her about it.
They both loved children, and
John’s 10 nieces and nephews in New Jersey adored the couple right back, said Mazzeo, of Hazlet, N.J. The Restas spent almost every other weekend in New Jersey, taking the kids out on outings, to movies and for pizza. Sylvia even played Pokémon cards with the smallest ones.
Sylvia also loved to play videos games, and to have an Aunt who’ll come over and play them with you surely ranks high atop any young boy’s list of dreams!
We had dinner with them in February of 2001 while they were out on one of these visits, and they brought a lovely colorforms-type art present for our daughter. It wasn’t a special occasion, but they knew just the right gift to bring that would keep an 8 year old occupied at the table in the nice italian restaurant that we ate in; that’s just a small example of how thoughtful they were. John and I spent the whole meal talking about families, and how much he loved having such a large extended family so near by, and how excited he was about his future with Sylvia. I noticed during the meal that Blondie (‘Blondie’ was my nickname for Sylvia. The first time I met her her hair was dyed blonde, so I always called her that, which in turn would confuse the bejeebus out of people when they finally met her as her natural brunette, which in turn led to a lot of laughter on our parts) wasn’t touching her wine, nor had she run out to have a cigarette. I asked her about this odd behavior the next day and she told me the wonderful news that she and John were expecting.
This news set off a crazy period in their lives, as it does in all of our lives. They were living in an apartment in Queens, and their first thought was that they needed to buy a house. With all of John’s family out in Monmouth County, NJ, that was where they concentrated their efforts. We all know how stressful home buying can be, let alone when expecting your first child, and I would talk to Sylvia every Monday and hear how the previous weekend’s searching had gone, and I would pass along any houses that I saw in our neighborhood onto them as well, because they were the kind of couple you would adore having near you.
As the frustration grew they reached a decision together which to my mind I’m so glad they did: they said the heck with it. They realized that a lot of kids spent their first few years in cramped apartments and turned out ok; family is what matters. As Sylvia’s family lived mostly in Spain the summer of 2001 would be their last chance to visit for quite awhile, so they flew to Spain to spend a few weeks visiting them. They had a wonderful trip.
John and Sylvia worked at Carr Futures; he was a project manager and she was a commodities broker, which is how I knew her. As our market closes around noon, she was able to schedule appointments at very convenient times. On September 11th she and John were going to visit her doctor that very afternoon, and she was one week away from going out on maternity leave.
They were so thrilled at having a boy, and they were going to name him Dylan. I would always kid her that she was condemning him to a life of whiskey drinking, and she would laugh and say that at least they’d get some good poetry out of him.
Carr Futures was on the 92nd floor of the North Tower.
Flight 11 hit the 94th floor.
From the New York Daily News, March 19th, 2002:
John’s older brother, Tom, says he finds what little solace he can in the very real possibility that John and Sylvia were together when they died.
“I think my feeling is they wouldn’t have wanted to die any other way,” Tom said. “They were always together. They were inseparable. Like my sister says, they were like a left and right shoe. I just can’t imagine what life would be like if one of them had lived.”
Tom doesn’t know for sure what happened next. As far as he knows, his brother and sister-in-law didn’t make any cell phone calls or write any E-mails after the plane hit. He has heard news reports that the impact of the crash filled the stairwells of the 91st and 92nd floors with rubble, but he also has heard secondhand stories that they were seen several floors lower, working their way down the stairs.
“I can imagine him trying to help her down the stairs, with smoke all around,” Tom said.
He thought for about a day and a half that Sylvia might have made it out after a reporter told him she had heard that a pregnant “Spanish” woman had been found alive.
“We had hope,” Tom said.
But that hope soon vanished. Philosopher’s wisdom In the grief- filled weeks and months since, Tom has thought a lot about something Emanuel Swedenborg, an 18th century philosopher and scientist, once wrote: “Those who are truly married on Earth are in heaven one angel.”
On Feb. 14, a police officer and a representative of the Monmouth County, N.J., coroner’s office came to the family’s house to relay news that John’s remains had been identified.
“From dental records,” Tom said.
“I think if John could have picked a day to be identified, it would have been Valentine’s Day,” he said. “He was a very romantic person. He believed in love and friendship.”
Sylvia is among the more than 2,000 people whose remains have not been identified. A few days ago, her mother was asked to provide more DNA samples.
So the family has decided to wait until she’s found. “We don’t want to bury him without her,” Tom said. “They did everything else together.”
Together forever, as they were meant to be.
We love you and miss you, and we will always remember you.
A special thanks to DCRoe for all the work done in honoring all of the victims.