Michael Angel Trinidad was 33-years-old when he got a job in New York City’s World Trade Center. Just three months later, the tower where he worked was destroyed on September 11, 2001. During his last breaths of life on the 103rd floor of the North Tower, Trinidad made sure to call his ex-wife, Monique Ferrer — although divorced — to tell her he loved her.
It’s a little more than a decade since Ferrer lost her ex-husband. However, she says although she and their two children lost him physically, they still carry him with them spiritually until this day.
“We met when I was 14…I knew when I first saw him that he was going to be my boyfriend,” says Ferrer who still speaks about her ex as vividly and lovingly as if she just saw him. “He was a character. He would grab people, and tickle them. I used to tell him to relax himself…He was always so into family.”
She says Trinidad was such a good person and father with a great heart. She recounts how he would come to her house often, and how they stayed bonded for their two children, Tim and Thea, who were 9 and 10 at the time. She also remembers their last conversation, which lasted about 10 minutes.
“He was very, very calm,” says Ferrer. “He wasn’t panicking. I was panicking. He just wanted to tell me what he had to say, because he knew he wasn’t going to make it…”
She remembers him saying while she was urging him to find an exit, “It’s really dark and hot, and I can’t see.” Shortly after, the phone cut off.
“I was watching the television, and when I saw the first building collapse that wasn’t his building, I thought ‘There’s a chance,’” says Ferrer, her voice beginning to shake while remembering the tragic morning. “When I saw the second building fall, I fell. I just knew in my heart that he was gone. I just knew it. He was my soul mate. He was brought to me for a reason, and the reason is my children. It just got my soul. I just fell. It was just like unreal.”
She says immediately after the attacks, she was grieving and very emotional.
“I felt like I couldn’t show that because I had young children,” says Ferrer. “So I had to keep things to myself, and I couldn’t share those feelings with anybody. When StoryCorps came along, I said ‘Let me do this.’ I wanted to record our conversation which was so fresh in my mind. I didn’t want to forget any part of it. I want my kids to be able to go back to that recording if they need to.”
When she first recorded her story in 2003, she says she originally didn’t think anybody else would hear it, but she found it to be therapeutic. Later, Ferrer says she got a call from NPR asking if they could play her story on national radio for the 10th anniversary of 9/11.
“Since then, I’ve gotten e-mails from people,” says Ferrer of the many people who were touched by her story. “I guess it’s helped a lot of people to understand what it’s like to go through something like this.”
Although Ferrer has remarried, she says what she finds most amazing is after more than a decade, she and her children still get signs that he’s around, such as coincidental happenings, or reminders of things he would do or say.
“He’s still letting us know that he’s here,” says Ferrer who only wishes she hadn’t wasted so much time while he was alive. “He’s affected so many people. You only really pay attention to these things after they are gone.”
She says she didn’t think about it back then, but their last 10 minutes on the phone together was a blessing.
“How many people can be there when your life is just beginning, and then when it’s ending,” says Ferrer. “He called me. It was a beautiful thing…During this time of the year, it does get hard. I look at my children, and I see him in them.”