1 of the 2996
September 10, 2006
All of the accounts that I read of September 11, 2001 start off stating the weather. The beautiful blue skyed day. A day that seemed too beautiful for something bad to happen. A day where the weather and the events that were to occur seems incongruous. Since I live right outside of NYC, I remember the weather too. I also remember the absolute still quiet outside. No planes flew overhead that day. No children were running around screaming in their yards. It was eerie. And I remember standing in the middle of my backyard and just looking up into the sky and thinking, ‘Why?’
It was a day that started out like any other for 2996 people and their families.
Including David E. Rivers.
I didn’t know David. I don’t know his family. I don’t really know anything about him other than what I could google about him.
He was a son, a brother, a husband and a father.
He was scheduled to give a seminar on the 106th floor of the North tower at Windows on the World on September 11 and 12. He did not ordinarily work at the World trade Center.
David Rivers was the key editorial person in New York for Risk Waters’ publications, and a man widely respected by everyone involved in financial IT. Married 17 years, he had a five-year-old son and a wife, Ricky, who was big in the world of fashion. They lived in the Village on Fifth Avenue. By all accounts she was the one who kept him well dressed.
According to Dennis Waters, the founder of Waters Informational Services, David was not shy about laughing. What a great quality to have.
At a movie party in TriBeCa 18 years ago, Ricky Vider Rivers met her future husband, David, a newcomer to New York by way of Massachusetts. Within three weeks, the two had moved in; they’d been together since.
“He was my soul mate, my best friend, my everything,” said Mrs. Rivers, a fashion editor. “And I can’t believe we won’t see him again.”
Mr. Rivers, 40, was editorial director at Risk Waters Group, a financial technology company that was sponsoring a conference at Windows on The World on Sept. 11. After the first plane hit, Mr. Rivers called his wife, who had forgotten that he was in the building. “I’m just hoping he was calm in that storm, standing there on the top of the building,” she said.
Last weekend, the family held a memorial service for Mr. Rivers on Martha’s Vineyard, a treasured place where he spent summers as a boy and later as a husband and father. “We put a box in the ground with a key to the beach in it,” Mrs. Rivers said. “Because that’s all we have left.”
She continued: “Our son James, who is 5 years old, asks ‘Why did Daddy have to be there that day?’ And I can’t answer him.”
I think of my own five year old son who I just wrote about a few days ago. And then I think of my ten year old son who was five on September 11, 2001. And I am at a loss for words. There aren’t any that can express the magnitude of my sorrow for his family.
While we lost so much as a nation, David’s wife and son lost him, an individual person who was irreplaceable in their lives.
I don’t know why either, James.
I am no one special. I have certainly never done anything remotely heroic in my life. But what I can do is write. And today I write about David Rivers. One person I will never forget. One face to humanize a tragedy.
I hope that I do his life justice.
James, I won’t forget your father. When I go to Martha’s Vineyard and walk on the beach I will think of him. When I feel the sand between my toes and the salty waves splash up onto legs, I will think of him. And though I have never listened to Emmylou Harris, I did today.
David also brought a distinctive style to the content and design of his publications, particularly Waters. To him, the magazine’s graphic design set it apart from its competitors as much as its content did. We all learned a lot from him – not just about this industry but what it means to be a journalist. He certainly set an example. David spent many weekends tapping furiously on his laptop while listening to Emmylou Harris or Chocolate Genius. It’s a sound – and a presence – we deeply miss.
When I saw this photo on one of the many websites I visited I thought here is a person who loved life, who loved to laugh, who was surrounded by friends.
I have written and rewritten this, trying to find the right words. In the end I decided to edit out most of his career resume. I realized what made him special is the same thing that makes all of us special. We love and we are loved.
So sweep for the sons
And the dear darling daughters
For the passing of time
And the parting of waters
For all who have passed through
This world long before me
To a far distant shore line
Where no one waits for me
But I cried a river
A river for him
That’s deeper and wider
Than I’ll ever swim
The heart it will harden
The sorrow will dim
But I cried a river
A river for him
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