BOCA RATON, Fla. - The remains of nearly forty people were recovered as of this week in a new effort to sift through the World Trade Center debris left behind after the 9/11 attacks. For some, it is a sign of hope for closure. For others, it is much too late for final farewells.
The last words of the last telephone conversation that Michael Conner had with his wife of 21 years. "She said 'I'll talk to you later. I love you. Goodbye'."
That was the morning of September 11, 2001. Margaret Conner was working as a receptionist on the 103rd floor of the World Trade Center's North Tower. Her remains were never found.
"Obviously, they've taken too long," said Mr. Conner, who now lives in Boca Raton. "There's no reason twelve years later they should be looking for remains in that debris."
Ground Zero debris that was hauled to Staten Island years ago is just now being sifted through. The tedious work is yielding results. The New York City Medical Examiner's Offices says 39 potential human remains were recovered recently; many of which were found this week.
Conner does not know if any of those remains are that of his then-wife and he does not want to know; not anymore.
"To be honest with you, I didn't want to know if there was an arm or a leg or a finger found," he said.
After a memorial and after saying his final goodbye and after deciding to move forward, Conner told the medical examiner that he was ending his quest to find Margaret's remains.
"We didn't want to go through, basically, the sorrow the hurt again," he said.
Conner says that he has tried to move forward. He moved from New York to south Florida in 2005. He has also found new love and remarried; without ever forgetting the past.
"It doesn't come back every day," he said. "We've gotten past that and you have to go on with life," said Conner.
The remains of more than 1,100 people who died at the World Trade Center site have never been identified; Margaret Conner will forever be one of them. Mr. Conner knows that the struggle for closure for other families lives on.
"They have their own way of dealing with what happened," he said.
Investigators will spend ten weeks sifting through about sixty truckloads of debris on Staten Island. All of the debris was unearthed by construction crews working on the new World Trade Center tower in lower Manhattan.