Chapter 21

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It amazes me how tragedy brings people together. Last night, Shayla threatened to take my children away from me. Today, she wanted nothing more than to be with me…


I still can’t fathom that it could have been me in the North Tower. I was supposed to meet Bank of America on the eighty-first floor and return the necklace. Our meeting wasn’t supposed to be over until at least ten. But by ten thirty, both towers collapsed…


I can’t wrap my head around it, and I don’t really want to. It’s a lot to take in, knowing that I just cheated death...


What I can focus on right now is how this moment has brought me much clarity.


I was right. Shayla still loved me. I wasn’t crazy. But now, I feel like I can fully let her go.


Life is short. I could have died with hate in my heart.


Hate toward Shayla and Drew. Hate toward my situation. And hate towards the fact that Shayla would never take me back.


I would have died in vain.


And I would have died with the absolute worst goodbye to the love of my life.


Now, I feel at peace. A complete and utter peace that I probably should have had a long time ago. It took this for me to finally come to this feeling…


I continue to say that Shayla chose right when she chose Drew, but that means more to me now than it did before. He acted so quickly to get Shayla and my children out of here. I have no choice but to give him my complete and utter respect. And no matter our differences last night, Shayla was kind enough to offer me a ride with them.


I couldn’t accept their offer. For the simple fact that while I feel like I have peace now, I don’t think I’m at the point where I can be around them and my children. Nah. That’s going to take a while. I know we’ll get there, though. I can’t continue to be childish and not allow it to happen.


My cell phone rang loudly, and I went to pick it up, “hello?”


“We’re downstairs. You ready?” My friend, Frank Cascio, asked.


“I’ll be down shortly,” I hung up the phone and scurried around the room just to make sure I had gotten everything. As I had done many times, my luggage sat at the front door in a pile, ready for it to be retrieved. I took one suitcase to hold me over at the Cascios, but everything else would be shipped back home.


Just like when Shayla and Drew were leaving, traffic was ridiculous. The New York skyline doesn’t look the same without the infamous towers.


An eerie chill was in the air. The ghost of what was formerly there. Thousands had lost their lives. When Shayla called, I immediately turned on the news to see both towers burning. It was like watching a scene from a movie.


I was grateful to not have seen it with my own eyes, but when Shayla came over, I could see both towers clearly in her eyes. It reminded me of the betrayal and how the innocence had seemed to have been ripped away from her. This was that moment. I had seen the towers on the screen, but I could see them in her eyes.


No one should ever experience that. Nor should things like this happen. It shouldn’t happen to any country or to any nation. But the fact that this happened here on American soil has stunned me.


We’re deemed untouchable, but we’ve been proved not to be untouchable many a time. This, however, had to have been the greatest loss of life on American soil.


Something has to be done for the survivors and the victims of this tragedy. The families of the victims. Something has to be done.


They deserve nothing less than our love. And whatever we can give them, I’m sure, would be greatly appreciated.


What can I give?


What can I possibly give to them at this time?


In ‘85, Lionel Richie and I got together to produce a star-studded song. All of the proceeds went to Ethiopia, which had been struck with famine for three years...


What more can I give? Aside from proceeds, what can I do for someone who has lost a mother, brother, sister, child, or husband from today's events?


If I do a song like “We Are The World,” surely that’ll get us somewhere. We could give the proceeds of a new record to the families of victims, survivors, and to the government of NYC to rebuild and clean up.


I’ll figure out something.


“What’s on your mind, Mike?” Frank asked me. I had been silent, staring out at the window for quite some time now.


I turned to look at him, “we have to help these people. However we can, we have to help them. Families have been broken today, or… have almost been broken… Proceeds can’t bring a lost family member back, but it can surely help in a time of need. I told Shayla I was staying here to work. Maybe there’s something bigger coming out of this. It’s not just about work now. It’s about the nation.”


He nodded as he listened to me ramble.


I continued with my thought. The thought of escaping death still leering above me, but life was breathing back into me again. I have to continue to do what I was put on this earth to do. “It’s about the nation and… family. Healing. Something changed today, and it wasn’t just the loss of life. It was the realization that life can be gone in the blink of an eye… My family could have lost me today. That’s something I will never be able to shake….” I shook my head. “You got a pen and paper in here?” Words. Endless amounts of words, or shall I say lyrics, were jostling back and forth in my mind. They need to be written down, lest I forget them.


Frank into a bag, pulled out a yellow notepad and a pencil, and handed it to me.


“Thanks,” I took the pad and pencil and immediately wrote my name in the top right corner, followed by the date, 9/11/01.


If I don’t write down everything in me right now, it’ll be gone forever, and I can’t take that chance. I have a song in mind for the attacks, but another set of lyrics was leering in my mind:


You are the sun.

You make me shine.

Or more like the stars that twinkle at night.

You are the moon that glows in my heart.

You’re my daytime, my nighttime, my world.

You are my life…


Now, I wake up every day with this smile upon my face.

No more tears, no more pain

‘Cause you love me.

You help me understand that love is the answer to all that I am.

And I’m a better man since you taught me by sharing your life…


That’s it. That’s gonna be part of the final song for the album. And I'm going to dedicate this and the album to Shayla and my children.


I understand Shayla now. Her love was sacrificial. She loved me the way Paul from the Bible speaks of love in first Corinthians. Somehow, this tragedy has made me understand that. And it’s opened my heart and my eyes to finally love her the same way, even if we’re no longer together.


I want her happy and in love. And to raise our children with the same passion that she gave me and continues to give me even though we’re apart.


No matter what goes on, I’ll always be in her corner.


It’s unfair for me to say that I’ve been given another chance at life meanwhile others have just lost theirs…


However, I can’t shake the feeling.


I pulled out my phone and called my lawyer, John Branca.


“Michael, are you okay? I was just about to call you. Everything’s so hectic!” He answered immediately.


“I’m fine. Just a little shaken, but I’m fine. Are you busy?”


“My plane landed in Houston. Per the FAA, all planes had to be grounded. I’ve been in Intercontinental for an hour now!”


“Thank God, you’re safe. Apparently, another plane crashed in Pennsylvania. The world is going absolutely crazy right now.”


“Crazier than we ever expected.”


“Do you have a pen and paper with you?”


“I have a notepad. Let me get it out. Give me a sec… got it. Whatcha need?”


“Whenever I get back to LA, everything I’m going to tell you has to be altered in my Will, okay?”


“Your Will? We turned it in months ago.”


“I know, but we need to do it again. Ready?”


“Any particular reason why?”


I took a deep breath, “I could have died today in those towers, and my anger towards my ex-wife would have left her absolutely nothing. As the mother of my children, both living and dead, she deserves everything I have to offer.”


“…you did have a meeting in the north tower this morning…” he remembered.


I swallowed a growing lump in my throat, not wanting to discuss it any further. “Ready? I’ll be in LA within two weeks so it can be appropriately documented and submitted.”


“I’m ready.”


It is my intention by this Will to give all property which I am entitled to to SHAYLA-ELIZABETH JACKSON. SHAYLA-ELIZABETH JACKSON may exercise all powers of appointment that I may possess at the time of my death.


I give my entire estate to SHAYLA-ELIZABETH JACKSON.


I appoint JOHN BRANCA and SHAYLA-ELIZABETH JACKSON as co-executors of this Will. In the event of their deaths, resignations, inability, failure, or refusal to serve or continue to serve as co-Executor, the other shall serve, and no replacement need be named. The co-executors serving at any time after my death may name one or more replacements to serve in the event that none of the two named individuals is willing or able to serve at any time.

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