Monday, September 11, 2006

In Honor of David Reed Gamboa-Brandhorst

How many of you remember what it was like to be 3 years old? How many of you can remember what you did just 3 years ago? How many of you have projected 3 years into the future, thinking that 3 years was a long time away to be planning for, that far in advance? How many of you have ever imagined what it would be like if 3 years was the average life expectancy? How would you spend your time if 3 years was all that you had left to live? 4 years to graduate from high school...4 years is the norm to earn an undergraduate degree from college. What could 3 years give you? What could you give back to the world and to your country, in just 3 short years?

David Reed Gamboa-Brandhorst was born June 23, 1998. That same month, an enemy of the United States few Americans knew about, Osama bin Laden, was placed on the FBI's most wanted list. 2 months later, on August 7th, the world saw simultaneous bomb attacks on US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. 224 were killed, including 12 U.S. citizens. Worst was yet to come...

When I first learned about the 9/11 Tribute, I did not respond right away to it. The idea of blogging a memorial tribute for one of the victims of September 11th seemed too intimidating and too big of a responsibility to commit to. Plus, I had already written a bit about Ronald Gamboa in my 9/11 blogpost last year. But as summer was fast approaching, and it appeared that many bloggers were still needed to fulfill the goal of 2996 bloggers, one for each victim, I decided I did not want to see such a noble effort falter. So I contacted D.C. Roe, the orchestrator and mastermind of this monumental project. I had set my heart on blogging about Ron Gamboa, since that would make my post personal. When D.C. Roe wrote back to me that Ron was already taken, he knew of the personal nature of my request and interest in blogging on Ron. He mentioned that Ron's life partner of 13 years, David Brandhorst, was also taken; but that their 3 year old son, David, was not. I immediately sent back my reply that I would write my tribute post on David.

First, a little background on how I came to know Ron. In the mid 90's, sometime after college, I had taken a part-time job doing security work for The Gap. I traveled the district at first, helping managers train their sales staff in the area of loss prevention. In this way, I began crossing paths with Ron, who was a store manager. When I settled into the Wilshire Gap store, and took a step down to being a part-time lead cashier, I would occasionally see Ron pop in for a visit from his store. The turnover rate for the management staff is rather high. Not necessarily people being fired or quitting; just transferred around. When Ron became my new store manager, he was already familiar to me. Because I only worked Fridays and the weekends, and store managers almost always scheduled themselves for the weekends off, I really didn't see Ron very often. Just on Fridays, and sometimes on a Saturday. He was always in good spirits and smiling at his own wittiness and biting humor...his playful insults always clever, never cruel.

One of the most vivid conversations I remember having with Ron, was one day in his office, he asked me if his son was too young for gymnastics (my primary job was and is coaching at a competitive gymnastics club). I bragged about the benefits of gymnastics training, and Ron bragged about the physical prowess of his son, as only a proud father can do. He felt his son would love gymnastics, and that gymnastics might be good for his son. I told him his son wasn't too young, and that we had programs for babies as soon as they can start walking. I promised to bring him a brochure, which I eventually did, and left in his manager's folder.

I believe September 7th was the last day that I saw Ron. That would have been a Friday. I probably worked the weekend through to Sunday. If I had said goodbye to him that day, it wasn't with the foreknowledge of permanence. I wasn't scheduled to be at the Gap again until the next Friday. Tuesday, our country was reeling and in turmoil. Thursday evening I had the TV on Channel 7, the local ABC affiliate news, and the name of Ron Gamboa was mentioned and I looked up to see briefly a picture of Ron and the front of our Gap store on Wilshire and 20th Street, where a makeshift memorial was set up with an American flag wrapped around a tree and candles and cards and flowers all around it. It was then that I learned that Ron had been a passenger aboard United Airlines Flight 175, the second plane to hit the World Trade Center. Friday morning I went in angry that I was not informed about Ron's death. The managers apologized, saying no one had my current phone number to let me know. I learned that Ron had not been alone, but that he had his partner, Daniel, and their son David with him.

This is very hard to type...

I cannot tell you how painful it is to see so many images over and over again of that second plane hitting the South Tower. That was the moment we all knew it was no accident, and that we Americans were under attack. And for me, any images of that 2nd plane is an image of the moment of murder of Ron, Daniel, and David. It never fails to water my eyes or choke up my voice when I see an image still. The videos can do it too, but there's something about a picture, where it's frozen in time exploding into the Tower that is difficult to stare at without my eyes welling up.

There was a national noonday prayer that first Friday after 9/11, and our store closed its doors shortly before 12pm. I raged inside as we sat around the Memorial outside the store, before we all headed across the street to a local church to bow our heads in national mourning. There I sat, sulked, and smouldered.

I don't handle grief too well, in terms of "letting it out". I'm the kind that bottles it all in and withdraws from others. I skipped the Memorial Service for Ron, Daniel, and David. I knew family members would be there, but I just couldn't bring myself to go (I'm sorry Jeannie). When the Gap Company held a candlelight vigil behind the store, including burying a time capsule in honor of Ron, I reluctantly went, but was mostly withdrawn in my own private grief, aloof and unfriendly.

Well, so that's a little background on the personal nature of why I am deeply proud and honored to be able to celebrate the memory of Ron and Daniel's 3 year old son, David.

Here is what one commenter who knew David wrote at a September 11 Victims site on Sept 13, 2002:
I want ot tell all of you a little somthing about David. My son has had manny surgerys on his feet and gets tired from time to time. David and my son went to the zoo just 2 months before his death. My son was so excited to be with his best little friend David however would get tired from time to time and had to stop and rest. Being that it was David's first time at our Zoo in Seattle I am sure he wanted to take it all in as fast as he could. But as my son would cry that he had to stop and rest and tell his little friend David to go on and he will catch with him. David refused and sat by My 3 years old side and held his hand for what seemed like minutes.What three year old does that???? It is simple and clear to me......a little angel names David. May god bless him and his papa and daddy. We miss you all so much. One small child has changed my babys life and tought him that people will except him the way he is.
Another comment on the same site, by Kevin, writes on 3/24/2003:
I took my two small children to a Los Angeles park today for a birthday party. While there, I saw a boulder with a plaque. The plaque explained that the park was dedicated to David Reed Gamboa Brandhorst, who lived nearby and played there often. David would have been about the same age as my son is now. Another boy was sitting on the boulder. He asked his dad what the plaque was for, and the father began to explain, "Well, you remember when those buildings were knocked down?..." It was the kind of talk I've had with my son many times since September 11th.

So David, you are missed and remembered and being met anew every day. A beautiful park is bears your name. And your story will bring home September 11th to other children for decades to come.

Rest in peace.

Since I had pretty much lost contact with all of my old Gap associates who knew Ron, and with so little time to do the fingerwork of tracking people down through myspace (*blech* and *shudder*), I did manage to Google and successfully make contact with one of Ron's sisters, Jeannie Gamboa Merwin. She is my primary source of knowledge on David. Without her help, there would have been precious little concrete information on David.

August 1st was when I signed on to this project; and August 3rd was when I made contact with David's aunt, by e-mail. So I had about a month to write up my post. It pretty much came down to the wire here. Jeannie admitted that this was more difficult than she had thought it would be and I feared I was being intrusive and opening wounds. But she proved gracious enough in answering a series of questions I posed to her 5 days ago. I thought about paraphrasing and reiterating; but I think it would be better to listen to her in her own words. Here it is:
So sorry about the lateness of my reply, but I guess it is harder than I thought it would be. Talking about the events brings everything so close to the surface and all the media attention makes it hard to ignore. To be honest with you, that is the best way I have found to get me through these years without my brother, pure avoidance of the subject of 9/11. I love to talk about Ronald, Dan and David and we remenisce about them often, but the thought of the awful things they went through that day makes me physically ill. I'll do my best to answer your questions:

1. How David came to be adopted and into Ron and Daniel's life.
Ron and Dan adopted David from a relative of Dan's sister's husband. They brought her to California to give birth.

2. A bit about Ron and Daniel, as a background for David.
Ron and Dan had been together for 13 years at the time of their

They first met in Hoboken, NJ where they lived until Dan was
to the Los Angeles branch of Price/Waterhouse Coopers where he was an attorney and Ron relocated there with his company, the Gap where he was a store manager. They first had a home in Century City, until they had David and then moved into a bigger home in Hollywood Hills. Dan traveled alot for work and Ron was in charge of running the household. They had a Filipino nanny to help care for David when they were both at work. They were both very family oriented. Every year, even before David was born, we would all go on ski trips together and we'd spend every Thanksgiving and Christmas together, even though we all lived so far apart. Ron, Dan and David attended Catholic mass together as a family every Sunday, even though Dan was not officially Catholic. Dan was like a brother to me. I even named my only son after him and Dan was my son's Godfather. David called Ron "Daddy" and Dan was called "Papa". Ron phoned our mother almost every day just to say hi and to see how she was doing. They were very close and he was her only son. Our father was diagnosed with Colon cancer in June 2001 and Ron came home to Kentucky each month to see him. When we were cleaning out their house, I found 4 more airplane tickets to Kentucky, one each for the next 4 months.

3. Your first memory of David
My sister and I were lucky enough to be visiting them in LA when David was born. We were at the hospital and met the birth mother while she was in labor, and we all went out to dinner a few days after she gave birth. We first saw David in the nursery when he was just a few hours old, and we were there when they brought David home for the first time. David was so beautiful, yet such a big baby! His birth mother was very tall and his birth father was even taller. His hair was blond and his eyes so blue, totally opposite from his Filipino Daddy. They needed a little help taking care of a newborn, as my sister and I already had children of our own. But they were natural fathers and were so excited to finally have him home.

4. Your impressions of the relationship between the 3

Ron and Dan doted on David. He was the world to them, especially to my brother. Ron was always so good with his neice and nephews, so he was a terrific dad. In fact that's why they were in Boston again. They were there 2 weeks before and David loved it so much that he wanted to go back.

His Daddy and Papa loved him so much that they gave him what he wanted and took him back to Boston...

5. David's personality. What he was like; what he liked and disliked.

His favorite things: David was a sweet little boy. Actually, not so little. He towered over his older cousins, but was so loving and gentle. He loved to eat vegetables (my brother was very health conscious) especially tomatos and carrots. At his cousin Nicholas' birthday party, he chose cherry tomatos over cake and ice cream. But when Ron wasn't looking, David would sneak into his grandmother's bedroom and take a few potato chips and he'd tell her "Don't tell Daddy."

6. Any photos/video clips you'd be willing to share.
Will send ASAP. [Jeannie was gracious enough to send two beautiful photos that just brought tears to my eyes and heart- the one above of David sitting on the porch with his toy; and the one below at the end, of him kissing Daddy. I am eternally grateful to Jeannie for her trust in sharing personal photos with me. There have been precious little on the internet.- Wordsmith]

7. Any fond memories of David: The last time I saw David was at Aspen. We had met them there for a ski trip in March 2001. It was his first time skiing and we watched him go down the bunny slope over and over again. He really liked it. After dinner that night, he pulled on me and asked me to sit with him and watch "Toy Story". He was so lovable and cuddly.

8. Anything you'd like to say/add about all 3 of them. Your final
conversation, when you first heard the tragic news, etc.

The last time I talked to my brother was about 2 weeks before he died. He called me on the phone to ask me a question about an old movie. We did that alot, qoute lines from old movies and sing lines from old songs, and when one of us couldn't remember the lyrics or who sang it or what movie it was, we would call the other to find out. It was a quick conversation: "Jeannie, what was the name of the movie with Audrey Hepburn and Humprey Bogart that they just remade?" "Sabrina", I answered. Ron said, "That's it. Thanks. Talk to you later. Bye."

I was at work in Philadelphia when it happened. There was a tv in the waiting area and someone told me about the first crash. I was busy so I didn't think much of it and then someone said that another one crashed and it was a passenger plane from Boston. I called Ron at his home in LA because I knew that Dan travelled so much for work. The nanny answered and said he was not home yet. They were on the way back from Boston. My heart sank and I almost fainted. She said not to worry, they always flew on United and they thought the plane was American Airlines. I said ok and to tell him to call me as soon as they got home. Then I tried his and Dan's cell phones and I kept getting busy signals. I called United to find out if any other flights from Boston had landed safely and they couldn't tell me anything. I called my Mom and sisters but they couldn't reach him either. And it was not like him to not be able to reach. In fact, he would always be the first one to call us. By that afternoon, me and my family were packed in the car and on the way to Kentucky. We still hadn't heard anything from Ron, and by then we knew that it was a United plane that hit the second tower. In wasn't confirmed until 8pm that night that they were on that plane. The next few days were a blur. By November 2001, I had sold my house and business in Philadelphia to move back home to Kentucky to be with my parents and family.

Life will never be the same without Ron, Dan, and David. We miss them so dearly and the pain never ends. We haven't been on a ski trip since Aspen, and the holidays still are sad. They will never be forgotten, and we thank you for honoring David this year and for remembering my brother in the past and future.


Ron, Daniel, and David were 3 fellow Americans who lost their lives on September 11th, 2001, out of 2,996 victims. I thank everyone who has taken the time to read this, to honor their memories; to know that the world was robbed of 3 beautiful souls, one of which had only known the joys of life for 3 years on this earth. In that 3 years, David was blessed and nurtured with a stable, loving family environment; and in kind, he blessed and enriched the lives of his fathers, and everyone who came in contact with him. Even today, 5 years after his passing, he continues to affect lives. Our lives. I hope celebrating the story of his short life on my blog will have affected your life. His memory will always and forever be, engraved upon my heart. God bless Ron, Daniel, and David Gamboa-Brandhorst. God keep their families in grace. Thanks to DC Roe for making sure that the memories of our fellow Americans are remembered and honored.

Jeannie: Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Never forget...

I do not see posts up yet, but Daniel and Ronald are to be honored by the following:

Daniel R. Brandhorst is honored by VegasQueen (I have tried Googling, but cannot locate VegasQueen; I have written to DC Roe about the problem). Ronald Gamboa is honored by John Williford

UPDATE (09-15-06): I've been moved by the comments I've read for this post. Some brought tears to my eyes all over again. My thanks to everyone for honoring the memories of David, Ron, and Daniel. I'd like to make mention of a couple of blog posts I found that are noteworthy:

The Saddest Tribute by Jenna. She links to my post and identifies with David's biological mother; she ponders the emotional guilt and grief that a firstmom might feel in having given a child up for adoption, then having that child's life end so abruptly and tragically. It is a very emotionally charged post, Jenna being a firstmother herself.

A recent commenter from Los Angeles, Circuit Mouse, links to my tribute and had written his own observations of 9/11 and remembrance of the California victims; Daniel, Ron, and David in particular. I found this passage fitting to add to this tribute post to the memory of David. Circuit Mouse visits the section of the park renamed the David Reed Gamboa-Brandhorst Children's Garden:
There are flowers adorning the boulder by the playground in West Hollywood Park that serves as a monument to David Reed Gamboa Brandhorst and his parents, Ronald Gamboa and Daniel Brandhorst. For all its simplicity, the boulder with a brass plaque is possibly the most fitting and eloquent monument to 9/11 that I have yet to see. The last words at the bottom of the plaque are familiar ones of David's at the playground, frequently pleading, "Just five more minutes, Daddy."

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Anonymous CJ said...

What an awesome tribute!! It must be difficult with your closeness to David. Very well written and thanks for the links.

Saturday, September 09, 2006 10:01:00 AM  
Anonymous CJ said...

The link to Daniel doesn't work.

Saturday, September 09, 2006 10:02:00 AM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

CJ, I never had the pleasure of meeting David; I only knew his father ( of them).

And I guess I wasn't precise at the end of my post. Yes, the link for VegasQueen doesn't work, and I've googled the name. It turns up someone who no longer seems to have his blog up. So hopefully DC Roe will get back to me on it.

CJ is honoring Ted Hennessy, btw.

Any bloggers leaving comments, feel free to promote and link to your 9/11 tribute.

Saturday, September 09, 2006 10:12:00 AM  
Blogger Skye said...

Words are lost for me after reading this tribute.

Damnit, you made me cry...again!

Saturday, September 09, 2006 1:06:00 PM  
Blogger The Angry American said...

Incredible post Wordsmith, often we remember the act,but not the actual people affected by it.

Saturday, September 09, 2006 1:16:00 PM  
Blogger Always On Watch said...

Just three years old! Heart-breaking.

How many other children perished in the 9/11 attacks? We don't hear much about those children.

Saturday, September 09, 2006 1:24:00 PM  
Anonymous flaggazer said...

Beautiful Tribute!
I am trying to read as many as I can - emotionally - this weekend.
Mine is up, too.

Saturday, September 09, 2006 3:16:00 PM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

I appreciate the time everyone has spent in reading. I know it's a long tribute post.

skye, I'm happy to make you cry again! I'll take that as a "good thing".


According to this site, 8 children had their lives taken from them.

flaggazer, thanks for the visit. I'm on my way to read yours.

Saturday, September 09, 2006 5:47:00 PM  
Blogger Gayle said...

Wordsmith I read it twice, once to myself and again to Walt. We both sat here with tears streaming down our cheeks. I feel stymied for the proper words to tell you what an incredible job you did on this project. I understand that it must have been way harder to do this because you actually knew David's father.

This is the first post I've seen with a child as a victim, and just looking at David's picture was hard enough. The rest of those beautiful pictures really touched my heart, to where my throat closed up and I would have to wait a minute in order to continue reading.

Your tribute and the time you spent on it, along with the obviously humongous effort it took to write it, is absolutely amazing. You are amazing! Thank you, friend, for doing such a wonderful thing. Thank you for opening up and sharing your experience with the rest of us. You are one talented writer! Blessings.

Saturday, September 09, 2006 6:04:00 PM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

Gayle, your description of you and Walt reading this made my eyes mist over. I really am not a crier. It's extremely rare.

Thank you for your kind sentiments regarding my writing skills; but the heart of the post is from Jeannie's own words. Without David's aunt helping me on this, there'd be scant information at hand to bring him to life to all of us who never had the opportunity of knowing him. Credit her words, not mine. Everyone should thank Jeannie Gamboa Merwin for taking the time in sending out to me what I requested; and for trusting me with handling the project in a way that would do honor to all 3 of her loved ones.

Saturday, September 09, 2006 6:23:00 PM  
Blogger Miss Chris said...

An absolutely incredible tribute. Thank you for letting us know of your friend. It must have been hard to let us in, but now we can all pay tribute to him. Thank you for reading about Debra Paris. It was hard to write.

Saturday, September 09, 2006 8:28:00 PM  
Blogger Stew Magoo said...

Wow. Outstanding tribute and I'm proud to be one of the lucky ones to participate.

Saturday, September 09, 2006 9:04:00 PM  
Blogger Mike's America said...

Thank you for sharing your tribute Wordsmith. It was very touching personal and heartfelf reminder that many who lost their lives on that day were the most innocent among us.

And too many adults who left us on that day also left behind children who will grow up with no mother or no father.

In remembering these innocent victims I hope we also redouble our efforts to do ALL, and I mean ALL we can to make sure that the evil behind these monstrous attacks is defeated.

We owe that to David's out there who lost their lives and all the David's out there whose mothers and fathers were taken from them.

Saturday, September 09, 2006 9:10:00 PM  
Blogger Gayle said...

You are far too modest!

I agree that Jeannie's contribution added a lot of information to this post of yours, Wordsmith, and it is wonderful and to her credit that she gave you so much support; but I started weeping long before I got to that part of the post, so I still maintain your writing skills are not to be sniffed at!

Sunday, September 10, 2006 4:54:00 AM  
Blogger Olah Chadasha said...

Wow, Wow. I have no words. I don't know why, but thinking that all 3,000 people killed were adults some-how made it a drop easier. Knowing and being reminded that children were stolen from the world that day seems to make it all that more atrocious. Thank you for doing this.

I am also taking part in Roe's amazing endeavor. I am paying tribute to Lt. John R. Fischer, a New York City fire-fighter that died in the WTC. G-d bless America.

Sunday, September 10, 2006 5:55:00 AM  
Blogger Jane said...

Oh my, that must have been very difficult for you and very painful. Thank you for introducing me to this precious little boy. Each of the 2,996 people who died that day left a void in all our lives.

I have a tribute to one of the victims on my site as well.

Sunday, September 10, 2006 11:51:00 AM  
Anonymous beth said...

I'm speechless - and sobbing like a baby.

This is beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing such a heartfelt tribute.

Sunday, September 10, 2006 1:51:00 PM  
Anonymous seawitch said...

Oh my goodness. Some how it's a little easier reading about the adults. Not much but to read about this wonderful baby brought more tears. I am still crying.

What a beautiful family they were.

Sunday, September 10, 2006 4:46:00 PM  
Blogger Old Soldier said...

Very moving; an extremely beautiful tribute to one whose life was life was stolen by barbarism. Thank you for pursuing your friend Ron which eventually led you to David. I cannot help but believe that was ordained, Wordsmith, because you went the extra mile to bring David out to us personally.

Thank you for the personal glimpses as well. God bless, my friend.

Sunday, September 10, 2006 6:21:00 PM  
Blogger Sage said...

Thank you for sharing this wonderful tribute with us. We are all grief stricken at the loss of the thousands of people who died on that awful day. I am saddened for your personal loss. I never knew any of the individuals who were taken that day as you and so many others have shared on their sites. We are greatly honored for your sharing your inner thoughts, heart and emotions in this tremendous post. God bless you.

Sunday, September 10, 2006 7:58:00 PM  
Blogger MonicaR said...

Beautiful tribute. What a beautiful boy. We watched that 2nd plane hit - my girls and I. It was awful.

Sunday, September 10, 2006 9:36:00 PM  
Blogger Little Miss Chatterbox said...

Wonderful, wonderful tribute!! It brought tears to my eyes and you did a great job of honoring all 3 of them. You don't think about children dieing that day because of the buildings being workplaces. Its very sad and we must never forget.

Sunday, September 10, 2006 11:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Jenna said...

I remember reading of David the first 9/11 anniversary after I placed my firstborn for adoption. I am thankful that David had two loving parents in his short three years. I am thankful that, from the looks of the pictures, he was a happy child. I am thankful, beyond measure, that you took the time to research and share David's story... and your story... with the world for this amazing project. As a firstmother, I can't imagine having to watch the footage every year, over and over, knowing that relatives of mine who had helped me through such a hard time... died with the child I gave birth to in their arms. I pray that David is able to watch over his firstmother and give her peace. I can't imagine the guilt. I can't imagine the pain. But I am so thankful that the three of them went together. May they have a happy day together, today.

They will never be forgotten. (Will be linking to my adoption blog.

Sunday, September 10, 2006 11:53:00 PM  
Blogger The Conservative UAW Guy said...

Great job.

It's so sad...

Monday, September 11, 2006 3:04:00 AM  
Anonymous Anna said...

Word, you have done a beautiful job bringing to life, if only briefly, the story of a family and their tragic loss. Thank you.

Monday, September 11, 2006 6:53:00 AM  
Blogger Celti said...

Wonderful tribute. I thought you might like to see the tribute video that I have posted on my blog, within my tribute to another 9/11 victim. It shows a picture of David Brandhorst with the notation "David Brandhorst my muse" within the video.

Thank you for the wonderful post.

Monday, September 11, 2006 8:01:00 AM  
Anonymous Nin said...

(tears streaming down face) That was a powerful, beautiful tribute. Thank you.

Monday, September 11, 2006 10:18:00 AM  
Blogger Curt said...

Word, I must say this was one moving tribute. The fact that a family member wrote her thoughts and past experiences added just so much.

One of your commentors said that in some way knowing that it was all adults who died that day made it a bit more easier to come to grips with. I would have to say that is true. We can never truly come to grips with this trajedy but now knowing that this beautiful 3 year old was one of the victims makes it that much more harder to deal with.

Your memorial has helped many to know about David's short life...

I also want to thank Jeannie for helping you bring us a bit of David....

Great job Word

Monday, September 11, 2006 10:28:00 AM  
Blogger WomanHonorThyself said...

Oh my gosh, as u know Word, I've been at the site all day and this post made me cry all over again..Thank you so so much. God bless u.

Monday, September 11, 2006 1:42:00 PM  
Blogger Ebyjo said...

What a heartbreaking loss for that family to lose three loved ones who were so dear to them. I think of my own children and it breaks my heart. Thank you for telling us about David. The media never wants to talk about the children involved. God bless you!

Monday, September 11, 2006 3:15:00 PM  
Blogger Pentha said...

Tears, tears, tears.

Tribute to Christopher Paul Slattery

Monday, September 11, 2006 3:15:00 PM  
Blogger Magi said...

This was incredibly moving. Thank you so much for sharing this story. The emotions are still so raw.

I have attempted to honor Dorothy Alma deAruajo's memory on my site.

Monday, September 11, 2006 3:52:00 PM  
Anonymous LA Transplant said...

I still remember the moment that I had heard that Daniel, Ron and David were listed among the victims - it had been about six weeks since I last had an opportunity to chat with Daniel about David. I often have wondered what those final moments would have been like for all those fallen men and women - and especially for Daniel and Ron as they comforted David. My guess is that they continued doing what came most naturally to both of them - being the incredibly nurturing, loving and caring parents any little boy could be blessed having.

Each 9/11 is challenging, each time I pass by the church where their memorial was held I remember the reason I was there that "last time." My heartfelt love and prayers go out to their families especially on this anniversary. Both guys were men of great talent, fun to be around and loved that little boy.

David - I can only imagine what a wonderful young man you would have grown into.

Monday, September 11, 2006 4:36:00 PM  
Blogger Jen said...

My heart breaks when I read stories about the children who died on September 11th and the ones that were left behind without parents.

He was such a cute a little boy and now he's an angel.

Monday, September 11, 2006 5:42:00 PM  
Blogger Patrick Joubert Conlon said...

After reading lots of tributes over the past few days, I steeled myself not to be moved - but you have me in tears. Thank you for being so kind about folks who don't fit the family stereotype.

Monday, September 11, 2006 7:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is the first one I've came across where a person was so young that lost their life. God took him home, and thinking of that makes my frown turn into a smile. God Bless them all-Ron, Daniel, and David. May they rest in peace. They all are in the care of A LOVING GOD!Now.

Monday, September 11, 2006 7:22:00 PM  
Blogger Karmyn R said...

Your tribute is the first one I've read that the writer had a personal connection. What a heart wrenching loss for everyone.

I'm glad to know that David was with his fathers - surrounded in love when his short life was taken from this world. That almost makes it bearable.

Thank you for such a well written and moving tribute.

Monday, September 11, 2006 8:18:00 PM  
Blogger Kate said...

I have no words. I feel as though my heart has been ripped out all over again.

I linked you in a post, and took a picture of David for it. Hope you don't mind. The face of a beautiful child.

Monday, September 11, 2006 9:06:00 PM  
Blogger Kate said...

I think the eight people who wrote about the children killed that day probably had the hardest task for 2996. All of the deaths were shameful, the acts of cruel cowards and zealots with no respect for life — but the chidlren they took that day were entirely innocent, they couldn’t possibly have had anything against any of them.

And the children — all 8 of them — were on planes with their murderers, they had to spend their final moments in mortal terror. I keep hoping that David was young enough to not understand, that his daddy and papa were able to shield him from much of what was going on, and were able to hold tight to him at the end.

I can’t help but hope that God has a special place for their murderers, and that for eternity they’ll have to live with the same fear they dealt those innocent children.

Thank you for letting us get to know David a little more, so that he can live forever in our memories.

I’m proud to have been a part of the 2996 blogger family with you.

Monday, September 11, 2006 10:07:00 PM  
Blogger Mary said...


It's so late and I'm so tired and this day has been packed with so many emotions.

I think I can't shed any more tears and then I read your tribute honoring David.

I realize that if I cried for the rest of my life, it wouldn't be enough. The sorrow is so overwhelming.

This completely wiped me out.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006 12:46:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Siren said...

This is such a touching tribute for such an obviously sweet little boy. Thank you so much for visiting my tribute and leading me back here.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006 5:33:00 AM  
Blogger OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

This was so deeply touching...The tears and heartache...the loss of these three wonderful people....Thank you for this truly touching rememberance....It means so much to read something like this tribute. Beautifully done.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006 9:43:00 AM  
Blogger Kache said...

What a wonderful tribute to a beautiful family, thank you for sharing it with us

Faina's Tribute

Tuesday, September 12, 2006 10:02:00 AM  
Blogger Becky said...

Extremely touching tribute. I was so sorry to read about an entire family that was lost on that day, and can't imagine the agony of their families.

THank you for coming by my site and honoring Scott Davidson.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006 1:22:00 PM  
Blogger Rebekah said...

What a beautiful tribute, Wordsmith.
We who didn't know the victims can only do so much to humanize, and to honor. Your knowing them helped to make three numbers out of thousands personal.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006 6:55:00 PM  
Blogger Tish said...

You have written a beautiful tribute. It brought tears to my eyes. My thoughts and prayers go out the family and friends.

I have honored Judson Cavalier.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006 8:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Sarah Hodsdon said...

Our dear new friend~ I had to wait to read your post; not from lack of time but because I wasn't ready. When you told us via the boys blog ( that you would be honoring a 3 year old my world shuddered. Having just recently gone on our first family trip across country by plane, I cannot imagine holding my 2,4 or 6 year old in my arms as a plane was delibertly being crashed. It just shook me to my very core. I knew many people in World trade 2. I had trained there just a year prior. I can remember the faces and remember the feeling I got when we had extra Christmas cards that year and not immediately making the connection that they were indeed gone and would not be receiving them. Your tribute is perfect. I printed it out for the boys scrapbook. Thank you so much, so very very much. Well done Sir.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006 11:38:00 PM  
Blogger benning said...

A beautiful family. And they remain together. Thank you for a wonderful tribute, wordsmith.

David sounds like a remarkable boy, in a loving, close family. We can only wonder what he would have become had he the time to grow up. What a sorrowful loss to his family, friends, and to his country.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006 3:47:00 AM  
Blogger a.k.a. Blandly Urbane said...

They're together friend. I found the link to your site at Bennings Writing Pad - he's a good egg.

I've been reading these since Monday and I think after this one that I need a break, I can barely see my monitor right now.

Love is what really, truly makes the difference and these three obviously have it (won't use past tense). This was a wonderful tribute to three beautiful people. That God, can't write anymore

Please do me the honor of visiting my tribute to Jill Marie Campbell - I like Benning set up a separate site for her as I didn't want her on my political blog. Let's just imagine that all these souls enjoy each others company now.

God Bless them and you

Thursday, September 14, 2006 7:34:00 AM  
Blogger circuitmouse said...

I thought I'd reached the point where I could stop my eyes from welling up. Of all the tributes around the country to those who perished on 9/11, the boulder by the playground in West Hollywood Park, to me, at least, is the most eloquent. I prefer it to whatever they're spending millions on in New York. West Hollywood, with some 30,000 residents, was disproportionately represented among those who lost their lives that day. So many in California have forgetten --if they ever realized-- that most of the victims (and heroes) aboard those doomed flights where from here. This weekend, at the West Hollywood Book Fair, ten to twenty thousand people will pass by the memorial boulder. I hope at least some of them will take a moment to pause and reflect when they see it.

Friday, September 15, 2006 2:53:00 PM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

I'd like to thank everyone who have added their thoughts to this tribute post for David. It is too emotionally draining for me to try responding to each and every comment; but know that I was moved by what was written...sometimes to tears.

I updated this post, toward the bottom, and included a couple of links for people to check out.

Also, I just have to add that the commenter, Sarah Hodson, has the most incredible family. If you are not aware of it, her young sons, Ben and Noah, wrote their own blog tribute to honor the memory of Vincent Marino. Quite touching.

Friday, September 15, 2006 10:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Doug Maltarich said...

My name is Doug Maltarich, and I live in Denver, Colorado. My ex-wife and I were married on Sept 1st 2001, and while on our honeymoon (Mexico), we were informed of the attacks, and began watching all the news coverage. What was supposed to be the happiest time of our nuptials became a nightmare of concern for friends and family as well as anguish over the loss of individuals I never knew.

The gift I chose for our 1 year anniversary was something that would hopefully have some permanent significance. I chose to have David's name engraved upon a gold bracelet along with 9/11/2001. I wanted to memorialize him in a way we would hopefully both never forget, and would always remember him in our hearts for the angel I have read about from that time forward.

I still have the bracelet now, but have decided on another way to remember him, his fathers and all the other brave individuals who lost their lives that day. I will soon be getting a tattoo of the WTC buildings (smoke from the attacks included), the phrase "Gone But Not Forgotten" above, and "David Reed Gamboa-Brandhorst 6/23/98 - 9/11/01" below the picture. Some may view that as rather hokey; however, tattoos for me are used to express what is important in my life and to convey meaning, not to simply have ink because it is now mainstream and popular. Hopefully the meaning behind this is understood.

I doubt I'll ever be able to read about David (or any of the others lost) without crying, but I will always stand beside you in remembering and honoring the people who died that day. Thank you for taking the time to share your feelings and experiences in your blog, it was a beautiful (albeit sad) tribute.

Friday, September 22, 2006 12:50:00 PM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...


Thanks for sharing your story. I forwarded your comment on to David's aunt.

Friday, September 22, 2006 1:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stacey briner my sister in law emailded the link to me- I am in cape Town South Africa. I still cannot get over the tragedy of 9/11. " well done for commemorating these individuals and letting us get to know David a little better. What a shame.

Saturday, September 23, 2006 11:15:00 AM  
Anonymous Enlightenment said...

One thing that struck me as odd in the days after 9/11 was Bush saying "We will not tolerate conspiracy theories [regarding 9/11]". Sure enough there have been some wacky conspiracy theories surrounding the events of that day. The most far-fetched and patently ridiculous one that I've ever heard goes like this: Nineteen hijackers who claimed to be devout Muslims but yet were so un-Muslim as to be getting drunk all the time, doing cocaine and frequenting strip clubs decided to hijack four airliners and fly them into buildings in the northeastern U.S., the area of the country that is the most thick with fighter bases. After leaving a Koran on a barstool at a strip bar after getting shitfaced drunk on the night before, then writing a suicide note/inspirational letter that sounded like it was written by someone with next to no knowledge of Islam, they went to bed and got up the next morning hung over and carried out their devious plan. Nevermind the fact that of the four "pilots" among them there was not a one that could handle a Cessna or a Piper Cub let alone fly a jumbo jet, and the one assigned the most difficult task of all, Hani Hanjour, was so laughably incompetent that he was the worst fake "pilot" of the bunch. Nevermind the fact that they received very rudimentary flight training at Pensacola Naval Air Station, making them more likely to have been C.I.A. assets than Islamic fundamentalist terrorists. So on to the airports. These "hijackers" somehow managed to board all four airliners with their tickets, yet not even ONE got his name on any of the flight manifests. So they hijack all four airliners and at this time passengers on United 93 start making a bunch of cell phone calls from 35,000 feet in the air to tell people what was going on. Nevermind the fact that cell phones wouldn't work very well above 4,000 feet, and wouldn't work at ALL above 8,000 feet. But the conspiracy theorists won't let that fact get in the way of a good fantasy. That is one of the little things you "aren't supposed to think about". Nevermind that one of the callers called his mom and said his first and last name, more like he was reading from a list than calling his own mom. Anyway, when these airliners each deviated from their flight plan and didn't respond to ground control, NORAD would any other time have followed standard operating procedure (and did NOT have to be told by F.A.A. that there were hijackings because they were watching the same events unfold on their own radar) which means fighter jets would be scrambled from the nearest base where they were available on standby within a few minutes, just like every other time when airliners stray off course. But of course on 9/11 this didn't happen, not even close. Somehow these "hijackers" must have used magical powers to cause NORAD to stand down, as ridiculous as this sounds because total inaction from the most high-tech and professional Air Force in the world would be necessary to carry out their tasks. So on the most important day in its history the Air Force was totally worthless. Then they had to make one of the airliners look like a smaller plane, because unknown to them the Naudet brothers had a videocamera to capture the only known footage of the North Tower crash, and this footage shows something that is not at all like a jumbo jet, but didn't have to bother with the South Tower jet disguising itself because that was the one we were "supposed to see". Anyway, as for the Pentagon they had to have Hani Hanjour fly his airliner like it was a fighter plane, making a high G-force corkscrew turn that no real airliner can do, in making its descent to strike the Pentagon. But these "hijackers" wanted to make sure Rumsfeld survived so they went out of their way to hit the farthest point in the building from where Rumsfeld and the top brass are located. And this worked out rather well for the military personnel in the Pentagon, since the side that was hit was the part that was under renovation at the time with few military personnel present compared to construction workers. Still more fortuitous for the Pentagon, the side that was hit had just before 9/11 been structurally reinforced to prevent a large fire there from spreading elsewhere in the building. Awful nice of them to pick that part to hit, huh? Then the airliner vaporized itself into nothing but tiny unidentifiable pieces no bigger than a fist, unlike the crash of a real airliner when you will be able to see at least some identifiable parts, like crumpled wings, broken tail section etc. Why, Hani Hanjour the terrible pilot flew that airliner so good that even though he hit the Pentagon on the ground floor the engines didn't even drag the ground!! Imagine that!! Though the airliner vaporized itself on impact it only made a tiny 16 foot hole in the building. Amazing. Meanwhile, though the planes hitting the Twin Towers caused fires small enough for the firefighters to be heard on their radios saying "We just need 2 hoses and we can knock this fire down" attesting to the small size of it, somehow they must have used magical powers from beyond the grave to make this morph into a raging inferno capable of making the steel on all forty-seven main support columns (not to mention the over 100 smaller support columns) soften and buckle, then all fail at once. Hmmm. Then still more magic was used to make the building totally defy physics as well as common sense in having the uppermost floors pass through the remainder of the building as quickly, meaning as effortlessly, as falling through air, a feat that without magic could only be done with explosives. Then exactly 30 minutes later the North Tower collapses in precisely the same freefall physics-defying manner. Incredible. Not to mention the fact that both collapsed at a uniform rate too, not slowing down, which also defies physics because as the uppermost floors crash into and through each successive floor beneath them they would shed more and more energy each time, thus slowing itself down. Common sense tells you this is not possible without either the hijackers' magical powers or explosives. To emphasize their telekinetic prowess, later in the day they made a third building, WTC # 7, collapse also at freefall rate though no plane or any major debris hit it. Amazing guys these magical hijackers. But we know it had to be "Muslim hijackers" the conspiracy theorist will tell you because (now don't laugh) one of their passports was "found" a couple days later near Ground Zero, miraculously "surviving" the fire that we were told incinerated planes, passengers and black boxes, and also "survived" the collapse of the building it was in. When common sense tells you if that were true then they should start making buildings and airliners out of heavy paper and plastic so as to be "indestructable" like that magic passport. The hijackers even used their magical powers to bring at least seven of their number back to life, to appear at american embassies outraged at being blamed for 9/11!! BBC reported on that and it is still online. Nevertheless, they also used magical powers to make the american government look like it was covering something up in the aftermath of this, what with the hasty removal of the steel debris and having it driven to ports in trucks with GPS locators on them, to be shipped overseas to China and India to be melted down. When common sense again tells you that this is paradoxical in that if the steel was so unimportant that they didn't bother saving some for analysis but so important as to require GPS locators on the trucks with one driver losing his job because he stopped to get lunch. Hmmmm. Yes, this whole story smacks of the utmost idiocy and fantastical far-fetched lying, but it is amazingly enough what some people believe. Even now, five years later, the provably false fairy tale of the "nineteen hijackers" is heard repeated again and again, and is accepted without question by so many Americans. Which is itself a testament to the innate psychological cowardice of the American sheeple, i mean people, and their abject willingness to believe something, ANYTHING, no matter how ridiculous in order to avoid facing a scary uncomfortable truth. Time to wake up America.

Friday, October 13, 2006 8:52:00 PM  
Anonymous michele said...

I just read these comments and I have decided to share my feelings with those of you who have "blogged” about the loss of David, Ron and Daniel.

For all the heartfelt, genuine and sincere words…..thank-you….it means so much…it is all we have…
I am not sure why my circumstances at the time of David’s birth are relevant, I see it as being the force that brought that family together.
I made the decision to allow Dan and Ron to raise David as their own son because I felt in my heart they would be great parents, David was meant to be their son. I wanted him to experience the things that my son Dillon had experienced- Dillon was on skis @2, had traveled to diff places, but most of all I knew that he would have true family full of love, and knew that he would truly be loved. They would always be close to me. Daniel is my sister-in-laws’ brother. I also knew that being with them I would always be his only mom. I had met with other couples. This was not something that I decided spur of the moment.
I was a recent college graduate, with a son…and knew that it would be difficult to provide for both of them and pursue grad school and a career. I am not ashamed to say that I was having problems….but was able to be rational about what would be in the best interest for everyone. I went to have an abortion 2 times…twice showed up at office in NYC, PA would not perform it that late in my pregnancy, and I could not do it….call it divine intervention or something. But my discussion with my brother and sister-in-law about my plans to fly to Kansas to have an abortion is the initial introduction to the idea of Daniel and Ron raising my unborn son. They had told me that Daniel had already told them he had been looking into adoption I met with them shortly after while visiting family in NY. It was a strange meeting, I never knew Daniel was Gay…so to meet with him and his partner Ron was somewhat overwhelming, but in a good way. Ron was funny and made me feel so comfortable, Daniel was, well those of you who knew him, he was the calm, and more of the “intellectual” type at least on the surface. I didn't really know him well. I honestly don’t recall specific details, but can remember feeling like it was right, in my gut. No questions. There was a lot to plan and work out. I needed some time. After all, this was a huge for me…my gut would determine the outcome. Toward the end of the pregnancy, the biological father and I had to discuss the consent…and he then decided that he wanted this; he wanted us to be a family. He was Dan’s age, never married, no children and from a loving, close Italian family. He was a successful businessman. I had already made arrangements for my child to be with Dan and Ron….I do not believe that just because I was pregnant that we (the bio father) should be together. We went to lunch and he put his hand on my stomach, it became real for him. Prior to that, it was unseen. He expressed his feelings about the adoption, and was against it, It was not what he wanted. I called my sister-in-law and she informed me that the guys has just had their shower….they were ready, and waiting. I do not feel this was ever anyone’s business, but have decided to share it now, in hopes of sharing a different perspective. I was left torn between what my head was telling me and what my heart felt. I called the guys, no, my friend called them after she became tired of me crying and said “please talk to her.” I was pregnant and hormonal. I told then about Drew and asked them, if I could have David in CA. They must have been scared, worried etc…I left PA and flew to CA so that I could have David in CA and allow them to be part of the delivery. This would also expedite the adoption process… alleviating any of their fears that I would see David and change my mind. …. I flew out to CA They picked me up, made sure I was comfortable and began to prepare for the arrival of David in 12 days. They made sure I was eating healthy, getting me gift certificates for deli close by. Ron drove me in his convertible, but only because I asked him too, he was worried about his skin, breaking out, funny I remember that. They were so excited. I wish I could do that over again, I was in a daze….emotionally…I was scared, etc….I left my son Dillon with my parents, again, very hard to leave him. and much to my surprise, within 2 days, my water broke. I called them. Telling them that I think my water broke….it’s early- they came and we left for Santa Monica Hospital. David was born within 4-5 hours with Ron and Daniel to welcome him into the world. Ron’s sister’s had been there earlier too ….the guys didn’t realize what a smooth delivery it was…they were lucky. Ron was talking on his walkie- talkie to his sisters…it was like watching a kid at Christmas...pure energy and adrenalin….Dan and I had not spent as much time together, it was different…he was truly rocked …..on all levels….the photos show his emotions, truly happy. He was smiling, crying at the same time. He cut the cord, it was important for me to have them do that. I cut Dillon’s cord. They held my feet, held my hands, and took those very graphic pics of him entering the world. They were the best……they held each other, you could see their love for each other, as well as their fear and excitement all rolled into one. Dan called his sister and family….He was so proud to be a dad…it was a beautiful experience. He was grinning ear to ear….

I love being a mom, and my son Dillon, now 15 was and still is my whole world. I anguished over my decision, my heart hurt more than words can explain It really is surreal; With David’s early labor and birth, we did not really discuss details about the “after birth time.” I had the opportunity to be with David after his birth….I was not hidden away in another ward of the hospital….I cried the whole time….surreal is the best way to describe it. I asked to keep his sleeper, they said it was not allowed, it is against hospital policy. The nurse saw me crying, she brought it to me, later, I still have it, it is stained…and his bracelets, his cap…his charts..etc. All of things that a mother cherishes, and keeps packed away for years. She saw how much that would mean to me.

Music is my therapy, always has been so I bought a CD to listen to for my plane ride home, I was a mess, still being in an emotional fog….It was a soundtrack to a movie, the one with Meg Ryan and Nicolas Cage…something about angels…anyway
The song by Sarah McLaughlin, “in the arms of the angel” was my song to him…as soon as I heard it-listen to the words, “talks about a hotel room…”….and then IRIS by the Goo-Goo dolls…again, listen to the words... “ I just want you to know who I am.” I could never have possibly imagined the significance of those lyrics then, but today they have a deeper meaning….gives me Goosebumps when I hear them, and at random moments on radio, just when I am thinking about them…honest, it has happened too many times to count. After his birth, I decided to detach, or shut down…for my own mental health, I was regretful, and second guessing…quite normal to do so…. I didn’t know how to feel or what to do with those feelings. I even sent them a few emotionally charged e-mails….followed by the apology e-mails. Post partum hormones made it worse. It was the most difficult decision I have ever had to make, and the most painful experience. We had moved to Florida, to start over, and life was good, I started a beach rental business, got into surfing, started thinking about custom line of boards for girls….had a surf team…etc…. It was 7 days a week, I loved it, But it was not enough to take away the pain of missing him. I fell into a depression, deeper than I thought I would ever sink. I called my family and asked them to meet me in PA, I was coming back up North. I did not want to discuss anything with them over the phone, they saw me that Christmas eve, and knew that I needed to leave Florida and get back on my feet. That was about a 1.5 years after his birth. His Biological dad Drew and I met for the first time since I had left PA. It was a meeting that needed to occur, we spent several hours talking.crying...etc….I showed him pics...there was mixed emotions. from sadness to anger…for a moment we thought what if??? He asked me how he was, and what he looked like…And after processing all of those feelings…it was what it was, that’s it, it was the way it was and. it was the right decision… we needed to figure out how to move forward with all of the feelings. I could have moved with him to Florida, gone to grad school….but for all the wrong reasons. We could have been married, and then what…inevitably divorce because we were not in love with each other. Drew met an incredible Italian girl, beautiful, inside and out. I have always believed in everything happening for a reason and being spiritual person, believe that it was supposed to be that way….it was the plan….David could have gone to any number of couples, I had met with 3 couples prior to giving him to Dan and Ron..…one couple was a good friend, who was devastated by my decision. I have so much empathy for couples who go through the process, knowing that it may not lead to a child….so much admiration for them. David could have stayed with me, but, it wasn’t meant to be; for 3 years, he brought those 2 men something that they could have never biologically achieved, and made their lives truly happy, he gave them as much as they gave him.. a family, with loads of love. I WAS a single mom, could have done it, but knew what it would be like. I struggled to get through college. My parents were the reason I made it…..they took him during my final exams, even let me take a vacation with a friend to spend time with adults…I made sure Dillon was healthy and happy, I owed it to him. Dillon went to a private school until 2nd grade….we had vacations and always spent a lot of time together….learning and teaching each other about life. From what I have heard, David loved whale watching, and that their initial plans were to fly home on Monday 9/10…..we know that something changed…and they were on the doomed flight 175, on that Tuesday morning….all three of them together. I have thoughts about those final moments, and choose to rely on faith that they did not suffer. My mind can become quite obsessive about the actual sight of it. I need to “turn it off.”
That morning of September 11 was an ordinary day, beautiful ….I had just started my teaching job at the school in June of that year…It was my first group of students. I remember the events as clear as day- a student ran in my room and said we were under attack... this guy was a jokester, he said I am serious, we need a TV... We did not have any TV’S that were cable…so Jackie in the bookstore turned on her 13 inch Blk and white, holding the antenna, trying too steady the snow….I knew that I needed to get a handle on the students, and knew that by sitting in class we would be worse. so I said, let’s go to circuit city….which is close to the school. We traveled in groups…I had 3 girls with me. and it was quiet…we did not know what to say. Working in mental health, I automatically kicked into “listener” mode….gauging everyone’s emotions while trying to figure out my own…and there it was, on the many TV screens….the horrific site….the smoke….it was enough to make my stomach hit my throat… I watched the events unfold, with my psychology students, I was horrified….not knowing how it would impact my life. I told my student Michelle, who was a mother, there were children, oh god all those kids…they must have been so terrified…I felt so much sadness, it was overwhelming. I kept thinking about the kids…probably because many were without their parents on a trip. I went back to my classroom, voice shaking, saying that we should go home, and be with family….I was the last to leave, gathering my things. in shock. Don’t remember the drive home, but couldn’t wait to see and hold Dillon. I also had a teenager living with us at that time; she was with us the rest of the afternoon. She was talking about cheerleading being cancelled…its funny what people say and do…
I was fixated on the media and footage, hours into the night…still confused about what had happened the mind could not make sense of it…we, Charm and I ,both finally fell asleep on the couches around 11:30. ….Sometime after midnight, there was a knock at my door, I thought, “Charm knows my rules about her friends coming over after 10, I was ready to chew out a teenager”….….and being half asleep I looked out, and opened my door…looking at my mom and dad…It didn’t register….I immediately thought my uncle mike had been involved…..he had worked in NYC..he was missing, something. why were they there...….but my dad moved to the side, my mother had this look, of sheer terror. one that I will never forget and said in the most distraught voice “oh missy…David”……I fainted. fell into my dad…he grabbed me before I hit the ground…I will never forget that feeling….I never want to feel it again. and it remains blurry as to what happened after that…..I kept saying no, no, crying loud, screaming no, …call Denise, where’s Denise( Dan’s sister). ……I just got an e-mail from them, look, I went over to my computer, as though it would magically appear. I think I tried to turn it on. then kept walking around….I said “they just e–mailed me yesterday, there was problems and they would get back to me. I still have the e-mail, sent Sunday, Sept 09, 2001. With a pic, but only pic was attached, the others did not go through. they were of Woody from toy story and his party. Time seemed to be warped, if that makes sense. I called my friend Nicci, who was with me during the pregnancy, she was the closest to me and instrumental in helping me decide David’s family, she was my support; I could not have made it with out her compassionate, supportive words and 3 hr phone calls. I do not remember the call, but she told me what I said…she knew when the phone ring…true. she answered…oh miss, no caller ID either.…..I called drew, his bio dad first thing in the morning, the call that was the hardest for me to make, we had not spoken since our lengthy discussion….in that moment, everything that I had held on to, us meeting with David, letting him meet us, and ask questions, see who he is, was gone. I was on auto-pilot….and don’t know how I made it through those first few days. I know that I felt so lost….as I am sure many felt; I didn’t know how to start my day….it was hell. an absolute hell, which felt worse than anything I have ever felt. .and for those of you who are “curious” I did get through those days without drinking, smoking or anything else unhealthy!!! Friends and family stayed with me, concerned how I would handle it….they felt my anguish!!! It was the last thing from my mind…for me a true sign of my inner strength and accomplishment..
So let me go back, I had sent the guys an e-mail over that summer. We did not have frequent contact, but they would send pics and e-mails occasionally, my sister-in-law would show me recent pics and videos from their visits. I heard about his words and what he was doing etc. Ron was the one who corresponded with me, always thanking me for David. That meant a lot to me. I wanted to take Dillon on a surf trip to Hawaii and thought that it would be the right time for Dillon and me to layover in LA and see them. It would give Dillon and I chance to emotionally process it on the beaches of Waikiki’s…it made sense… My parents had been out to meet with them earlier that year as well. Daniel wanted David to meet his biological grandparents….again, something that I was grateful for; they didn’t have to do that. I have a beautiful photo of them, David in the middle smiling. I’m sure it rocked my parents, because they are super grandparents, love their family more than life itself. It probably hurt but helped if that makes sense. Ron had David call and leave a message on David’s birthday for me to hear his voice… It was the best. I still have that old answering machine. So I sent them the e-mail about the trip, plans to see them, please let me know if it is a good time..etc..and I was wondering why they had not gotten back to me. It was getting closer to my vacation and nothing…..
Then the e-mail…..9/09…an unexpected surprise….short. but letting me know they would be in touch….I was relieved. We would finally spend time together…Dillon, Ron Dan, and little David. I was feeling so good about it, I was in a good place emotionally with it, life was good, I was pursuing my careers, teaching and working with emotionally disturbed children… I loved it, I had finally found my niche in life…my purpose if you will.. Then 9/11/01…..I could go on and on…all of you know how you feel…we all feel it. But think I would like to leave all of you who question David’s fate, and being Ron and Dan's son versus being raised by me and Drew. please think about these things: my parents got to see him, only months before, after 3 years. I got the e-mail, 2 days before, had not heard from them in months…….it does not seem coincidental. If I did not get that e-mail, I would feel as though they did not want to see us, not now, or my parents were not important….I think Dan called his sister the night before…It sounded like Ron’s family spoke with him as well…….some families did not get a phone call….or contact…
Or an e-mail….I did, and those little insignificant things are what has allowed me to survive this hell….I still feel like I get signals from them…call me crazy, but I tend to catch glances at my watch and clocks on the TV at 9:11…..makes me pause…..flipping to a channel to catch the beginning of IRIS, or arms of the angels…those are not exactly current top 40 play list songs….It. hurts, always will….I hope that I leave behind the legacy that the Gamboa- Brandhordst family has left behind…..
I will never see my son David turn into the wonderful young man that I know he would have become…I know that he was an old soul…look at his eyes. take a hard look at those eyes…you’ll see it is different than other 3 yr olds….… Everyday they are in my thoughts…and the pain does not go away. for me anyway….…he was brought into all our lives for a reason….I am angry that so many peoples lives are impacted and so many of us have hurting hearts…5 years and it still takes my breath away….5 years and it feels like it did that day…maybe worse sometimes…because I think about what could have been….and how he could have grown to see that person that I am, and Dillon and the rest of our family, I did not give him up because I wanted to …I wanted the best for him…and that having him and losing him has taught me more about life than anything else. I am slowly working my way through grad school, should be done next September, MS in Prof Counseling. then continue on with Ph.D. I want to be done before I have to pay for Dillon’s college…LOL..
I have been teaching at a small art college for over 5 years. It is the best place I have ever worked. I love it.. I have also worked as a counselor with substance abuse agency, and drug testing. . My experiences, good, bad, positive and negative have taught me that in one second, it can all be gone…..what really matters is not the exterior stuff, what matters is the stuff that makes one a beautiful soul….being kind, being empathic towards others…giving of yourself when you feel like you can’t….listening…just listening, making someone feel good….speaking up for those who do not have a voice…and sticking your neck out for a good cause even if it means getting it chopped off I have always believed that everyone has a right to be happy without discrimination…now more than ever do I feel my voice is to be used to help diverse groups who need mental health services…I have moved beyond many obstacles in my life….not sure how I made it through some things…guess it’s the stubbornness in me…I am a fighter….and I have a passion to make this cruel dysfunctional world a better place, one person at a time. Dillon is a fine young man, an incredible heart, and genuine kindness, looking out for others…not afraid to stand up for his beliefs. He is amazing, he proudly talks about his brother and his 2 dads, despite the ridicule of them being gay. Pretty admirable for a young man and I believe that David would have shared a similar characteristics, especially knowing who his parents were. My dad is my hero, my mom is the most selfless woman I know. I have caused them pain, and my being pregnant with David was another painful time affecting all of us. We all hurt, and through this, we express our pain differently. I need to ensure that the legacy of David, Dan and Ron is carried on through spirit, their spirit. I do not have any contact with the Gamboas, only during David’s birth; I have been given various things by the Brandhorst family, and for that I am so grateful…it is all I have. If any of Ron’s family happens to read this, take with you the message that we all lost, and I am sure they would not want the distance and feelings that are so evident. I don’t know what happened, I just get the feeling that instead of families coming together these families fell apart, .it has created tensions and anger. That is not what they were about, they would have never stood for it….yet it seems that 2 families have each gone their own way. I wonder what would have happened if David or Dan or Ron had not been on that plane…would it have ended with such animosity. I don’t know the Gamboas, but I would like to let them know that I would love the opportunity to see my son, videos, pics, whatever, I would appreciate anything. I gather photos from the internet, strangers have more of him than I…and that’s OK.but please know that I would like Dillon to see and have a clear sense of who David was, and how his sacrifice too, was worth it every minute of his 3 years…..We have a 2 minute piece of video that is of David and Maggie running and jumping on a bed. David was in diapers, maybe 1.5… anyway, he falls off the bed, you hear his head…and he gets up-Ron runs over…giving him the daddy hugs and he laughs….Dillon watched that video 4-5 times…laughing so hard…saying he was just like me mom….I don’t know….please help me know him. Denise has gone through what she has not any family videos….and she thinks that Ron went nuts with the camera… Please think about it….I will pay for copying/ printing/ postage. whatever. I need it…please help me with it. If you do not wish to share them I will respect your wishes, it is your decision. Your brother and son was the one who always sent me cards, I know that he would have continued sharing David with me had they lived. But they didn’t and I don’t have the many memories that you will have, I rely on others memories, and photos…wish you could feel how much I wish I could have spent time with them, skiing, or family holidays.I will always long for will never be and I have accepted that I hope this has answered any questions about “his birth mother and biological father, the man who has never been discussed or been given condolences, or thanks, without him, David would not be. He could have stopped the adoption, etc……..” he too lives with the pain, how could he not. I want to share one last thing, something that I would have never disclosed, especially on a public forum, but feel like it needs to read by those of you who question that there is something greater than us out there….
Drew and I have not seen each other and the last time we spoke was about 2.5 yrs ago, I had just bought my house. He called me out of the clear blue, was in town, wanted to get together… my brother Eddy and the girls were here for the weekend, Denise was with friends and they came down to see Dillon and I. I told him that it was hectic, and I would see, my family was here and I don't get to see them that often....but we never got together.

So, 2.5 yrs passes, I am contacted by the medical examiners office in NYC about DNA collection etc…. those of you who lost a family member know what this is about. I submitted a sample last year, never heard anything, never really expected to, I can’t imagine how there could be any remains from the victims on the planes. Anyway, I get a call a few months ago,, a message from MED examiners office, please call…My heart stopped. It never ends, I call, and am told that they are “close” and would like to obtain another sample in order to be conclusive….in other words they needed another sample to rule out anyone else etc…so I received the kit, on a Friday….figured I would send it out Monday. They had asked about his dad and I said that I had not spoken to him in few years, and his number had changed. I really did not know how to get in contact with him…..2 days later, my phone rings, it’s around 11:10 Sunday, my friends know that I am up grading or working on school work, so they usually don’t call….I answer hello…and I hear “hey, Michele, it’s Drew….” I was in shock, speechless, finally saying hey, oh my god, did they call you…how they found you or something along those lines. he had no idea what I was talking about…repeated myself, he was puzzled, I finally told him about the MED ex calling me and sending me the kit, and he said that he was trying to get a hold of me for a few days….just felt like checking in…..after 2.5yrs….something tells him to call me…his cell phone had died, lost all of his memory, 100 numbers …there were only 2 left. Mine and someone else from PA…..we both acknowledged that it was an unexplainable thing, but knew that it was supposed to happen…that’s how it has been….I needed him to help me close this chapter, and the MED ex needed him because Dillon is not enough, as I was told later, very disappointed with that process and their professional handling of it. I was given false hope, really felt like a train wreck for a few days, and they made a mistake, they are not any closer…someone misspoke about it. The only conclusive way is drew and I both….so…he agreed. I am waiting to find out where they are with the results…told them that I don’t want to put drew through it if it is not going to produce any results….They told me that they have identified a number of victims from the planes that hit the towers…mind blowing…..very difficult to comprehend, that if and when I need to… for now…I wait ….patiently. for the process. I understand that more remains have been found, so they to will be in the pool…..Has anyone contacted any of Ron’s family about dna??? Just curious.... I would love to speak with those of you who knew David, I read these tributes, sometimes as a way to help cope, sounds crazy but it has really helped me when I am struggling.…again, thank-you for remembering them, as a family, and for not being judgmental, of me, my family or of his dads..….David’s spirit will always be in my heart, I am proud to have brought him into this world, and helping touch the lives of those close to his 2 Dads. The photographs, stuffed animals and his clothing along with the shared memories, although so few, have been a blessing….I only felt him in his early hours and days of life, to never have felt him again, except in my heart, where he, and the guys, will always be.

Sunday, November 19, 2006 8:10:00 PM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...


Sorry for the delay in responding. Your comment just simply overwhelmed me. I didn't know what to say or how to respond. There's just so much much passion and so much emotion. Thank you for leaving that comment. My heart goes out to you. I hope you will still check in here, from time to time. I do not intend to allow this post to fade away into obscurity. I hope that it will stand as a permanent tribute to David, Daniel, and Ron.

Please let me know, when you see this, how I might help put you in touch with the Gamboa family. You left no details as to how to contact you.

God bless, and I hope that you and Dillon have a Happy New Year.

Sunday, December 31, 2006 1:18:00 AM  
Anonymous Flag Gazer said...

Came back from Mike's Wordloom - this is an amazing post and Michele's message is equally moving.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007 12:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been patiently waiting for you to acknowledge my post, figured that you did not see it, assumed that my e-mail address was linked...I would welcome any info that you can provide in regards to contacting the gamboas....please let them know that my only wish is to have some additional photos, videos would mean so much to dillon and I...please let me know if you can contact ron's family...thanks ...michele

Saturday, February 03, 2007 11:31:00 PM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...


I e-mailed Jeannie to let her know. I pray that you hear from her soon.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007 10:06:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thank-you very much!!! I anxiously await a response...
thanks again

Thursday, February 15, 2007 9:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Tony said...

My partner, Michael, and I -- and later our son, Kyle -- knew Dan, Ron and David from the Pop Luck Club. They were natural parents and very special people. Their blend of humility, inherent affection for people, and humor made befriending them a pleasure and enabled them to inspire others. They served as role models. They didn't make parenting seem easy necessarily (who could with a very active toddler!)-- but they made it seem doable and they did it in a completely real, natural way. We bonded with them I think in part because we had decided to pursue a public adoption and assumed we would likely have a toddler placed with us (at least 1 year old or so, about the age of David at the time), rather than a newborn baby. So we watched Dan, Ron and David intently to get a sense for what our day-to-day life might be like. We asked ourselves: are we ready for this? As I said, their natural parenting style and the love you could feel in their family was an inspiration and helped give us the sense that we, too, could become parents. At a holiday party at their house in 1999, we looked around at all the kids and were feeling pretty down. Dan always seemed to be beaming at David, and I longed to share that same feeling with a child of my own. We had been on the wait list for a child for about a year and half, with several false starts and then a lull in activity. As we approached the holidays and the Year 2000, I was beginning to think that something was wrong, that for some reasons we were never going to be parents. Ron could see I was feeling down, and came over to joke and cheer me up. When I told him what I was feeling, he reassured me that when the time was right, things would fall into place. And they did. About 2 weeks later we got the call that changed our lives. A two-month old baby boy was placed with us and we spent the holidays and the new year in both a state of shock and pure joy.

Later that spring, at a Pop Luck event in a park, Ron inspired me in a very personal way. Our son suffered from a sleep-related issue. He would get close to going to sleep, and then jolt himself awake, terrifying himself in the process and making it hard to console him or get him to try again to go to sleep. It was nap time at the park, and exactly the scenario above occurred. After several minutes of our son crying/shrieking at the top of his lungs, people were starting to stare -- including people with small kids of their own. I moved away to another area under some big trees, in hopes the shade and cool air would help. The crying didn't stop. I felt like everyone was looking at us, and were thinking I clearly wasn't a very good parent. I used all my techniques and finally succeeded in getting our baby to sleep. Ron had come over by that time to see if he could help in any way. I told him I was a little embarrassed at creating a scene and he said something pretty close to, "Look here, it doesn't matter what anyone else cares or thinks. Don't ever let anyone judge you and don't judge yourself based on what you think they are thinking. You know what's best for your child, and you just have to focus on doing what you need to do." That message really boosted my parenting confidence. I felt so much better, and I've remembered and used that valuable advice over these past 6 years.

It's amazing how people touch other peoples' lives, sometimes in unexpected ways. Whatever your beliefs and wherever Dan, Ron and David are now, they touched many peoples' lives in very positive ways. I feel fortunate my life was one of those that they touched and I'm thankful to have known them. May they rest in peace, but know that they live on in the lives of so many others whom they influenced during their all-too-brief time here.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007 12:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Leigh said...

im ashamed to say that just an hour ago id no idea of david's all too short existence! Now - after coming across this touching blog - i find it hard to stop thinking about what he and his parents must have gone through on that flight! But - thanks to your wonderful tribute blog - he will be known, remembered and treasured by people all over the world im sure.

Leigh in Wales, the UK

Wednesday, October 31, 2007 9:22:00 PM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

Tony and Leigh,

Thank you very much for taking the time to leave comments. I hope the families of Ron, Daniel, and David read them.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007 9:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Aunt D said...

May I send you a picture of David?

Friday, December 28, 2007 9:42:00 AM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

aunt d,

I would treasure anything you have to share. Just let me know if it is permissible and whether it is your wish that I share the photo with the rest of the world.

I think this blogpost is the most important work I've ever done, bringing more attention to the memory of David, Daniel, and Ron.

Friday, December 28, 2007 5:49:00 PM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...


A family tragically lost, remembered

Dan Brandhorst, Ron Gamboa and their adopted son David Reed Gamboa Brandhorst died aboard United Flight 175 when it crashed into the World Trade Center.
By Malaika Costello-Dougherty
Three-year-old David Brandhorst used to ask for a big hug and then would grab the other person and squeeze.
"The big hug became squeezing and shaking, it was the way he did everything, so hard that he started to shake," friend Ken Yood says.
David Brandhorst and his fathers -- Dan Brandhorst and Ron Gamboa -- died aboard United flight 175, the second hijacked plane to crash into the World Trade Center, at 9:03 a.m. on Sept. 11.
The family was returning to Los Angeles from Boston after spending a weekend at a friend's waterfront house in Ogunquit, Maine.
"It is so big that we cannot process it," friend Bernie Cummings says of the tragedy. "What we can process is this little boy."
David was considered the "king of the slide" at West Hollywood Park -- "David's playground." The Legos that he loved to play with while his fathers brunched at Hugo's on Santa Monica Boulevard are similarly called "David's Legos." David would help feed the fish at Hugo's and many of the waiters came to the family's memorial last week.
David was "a moose" who looked 4 when he was only 2, Yood says of the boy he remembers running around smiling and having a good time.
"Everybody knew David. He was very much the ring leader," Yood says.
"He just was the pied piper of children," Cummings says.
"They loved each other intensely but David was it," Cummings says. "They really got what it meant to be parents."
The Brandhorst-Gamboa family were founding members of the Pop Luck Club, a community for existing families and a support group for gay men looking to adopt. Yood is now the president of the Pop Luck Club, which he says, has "proven itself to be such a comfort, such a support."
When Yood and his partner adopted a child, Brandhorst and Gamboa arrived first at the hospital. Gamboa brought flowers for the birth mother. The couple then loaned David's bassinet to the new parents.
"They presented a model of how to be a family for us," Yood says. "Dan and Ron made that dream attainable for us.... When I walk down the street and I see other families like ours, I see Dan and Ron's legacy."
The Brandhorst-Gamboa family lived in the Hollywood Hills and was famous for their parties, making people feel at home and spontaneous picnics. Brandhorst, a lawyer, made junior partner at PriceWaterhouse accounting firm. Gamboa worked at The Gap for 10 years and became the regional manager. The couple loved to shop.
Yood describes Brandhorst and Gamboa as the "perfect foil...where Dan was uptight and driven, Ron was laidback and relaxed."
"They were a constant in our lives and the lives of I can't tell you how many," Yood says. "Every Sunday at St. Victor's Mass. Every Saturday and possibly Sunday they went to Hugo's for brunch. Every Saturday Dan would take David to swim classes at the Y. Every Friday night was date night for them."
"They had hit a place in their lives that most of us aspire to," Cummings says. "A wonderful group of friends, successful jobs, parents. They loved life, loved their jobs, loved each other but most of all they loved David."
A memorial service was held at St. Victor's last Tuesday. More than 500 people were at the service which Yood says hoped "to do some of the work that Dan had left tell what it meant to be a gay family in West Hollywood and participate in that kind of way, what kind of legacy they leave."
About 150 people went to Cummings' house afterwards, and he says he opened his house because it is what Brandhorst and Gamboa would have done.
A memorial service was held in Brandhorst's hometown of Syracuse, N.Y., and another at Gamboa's old high school in Kentucky. A tree planting and memorial is planned for next week in Ogunquit, Maine.
"It is truly amazing how many people can be touched by the lives of so few," Yood says.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008 10:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had a great opportunity meeting David in November of 2000 when Ronald and David came to visit Ronald's family in Louisville, KY. Ronald is my husband's step cousin, and meeting them has made a huge impact on my life. Ronald and David were so happy, playful, and just had such a great time. You could tell that Ronald had so much love for this little boy. I never had the chance to meet Daniel unfortunately, but heard so many good things about him. Every year, I remember all three them. My prayers are with all families who have lost someone on 9/11, and I will never forget these 3.

Thursday, September 11, 2008 10:09:00 AM  
Anonymous Nicole van den Broek said...

Today I watched a movie about 9/11 on the television here in the Netherlands.. First thing I did was remembering were I was that day. I was 16 years old and in my final year of highschool. My grandfather called me up and that whole day I could move away from the tv. I didnt eat that day, I was just in shock. Wishing it was just a bad movie...

In all these years who passed I couldnt personalise it. I never watched or read anything with the names.. But today.. I dont know what changed, but I wanted to know who passed away that day.. I wanted to personalise it for myself.. Just to remember not only those terrible images, but to remember al those who lost their lives.. And then I came along this memorial.. My heart stopped for a bit, I never realised that not only men and woman in the glory of their lives passed away, but also dear children like David himself...

I'll never forget him, because of this memorial, thank you for that!

Monday, September 07, 2009 2:56:00 PM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

Thank you for your comments, Amber and Nicole. Thank you for taking the time to express your thoughts.

Monday, September 07, 2009 3:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Kergan Edward-Stout said...

Just a note of gratitude for this amazing tribute. I was friends with Dan and Ron, belonging to the same gay dads group, the Pop Luck Club.

While I live in CA, I was in Vermont when it happened, and was watching the news when the second plane hit. Little did I know that Dan and Ron, and their beautiful son David, were on that plane.

And today, on the anniversay of 9/11, floating through my head, was this Mary Chapin Carpenter lyric: "I thought a light went out, but now a candle shines. I thought my tears wouldn't stop, then I dried my eyes. And after all of this, the truth that holds me here, is that this emptyness is something not to fear..."

And, from the same song, whenever she sings, "Up above me, wayward angels, a blur of wings and grace. One for courage, one for safety, one for just in case," I think of Ron, Dan, and David...

Your posting allowed me to glimpse a bit more fully into their life and love, and I am grateful.

Thanks you.

Friday, September 11, 2009 8:50:00 PM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

Thanks for an amazing comment, Kergan.

Putting this post together has probably been one of the most meaningful things I've done with this blog.

I hope all Americans take the time to get to know the personal stories of those we lost that day.

They have names, faces, history.

Friday, September 11, 2009 9:06:00 PM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

A college friend of mine sent the following to me, via Facebook:

I didn’t know that you knew David, Ron and Daniel. I met them on a couple of occasions, about a month or two before 911. The first time it was just Daniel. He came to an open house of mine in the Sunset Strip. He really liked the house and said that he wanted to bring his partner and son to see it, too.

The next time, Daniel brought with him Ron and David. I remember writing about them in my journal later that night. I wish I had access to that journal, but it is on a computer that has been crippled by a virus. One day I hope to be able to recover it.

Witnessing the three of them together was so impactful to me. I recall how joyful David was. I had never seen a child with so much light in his eyes, a child who adored his parents the way he did and who had such a wonderful temperament. To me it seemed as if they were brought into my life so that I could learn that a family need not conform to the mother-father-child triad to be considered a real family, but could take other forms as well. I thought both literally and figuratively that they were sent to me so that I could learn this lesson.

It wasn’t until about a month after 911 that I learned about their fate. I called their agent one day to find out if they had any residual interest in the property. She was initially at a loss for words. She explained what had happened. I was stunned. Heartbroken. The horror of their last moments together played out in slow motion in my mind. My only solace is in knowing that they were together. They were meant to be together. The perfection of their love existed because they were together. I can’t imagine the grief and devastation that one would have experienced if he had been separated from the others. I'm comforted in knowing that they will always be together.

To me they will always be an example of the incarnation of Love, and I feel blessed that they made their way into my life. I will always remember them and smile through the tears.


Saturday, September 12, 2009 8:58:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday David. I miss you!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010 6:53:00 AM  
Blogger Molly said...

I remember Ron's love for David and his family every year, especially in September. My favorite story was of the "toy closet". Ron tried not to overly spoil David and he had taken some birthday/holiday gifts and put them in the closet so that David could enjoy them over a longer period. Who wouldn't want one new toy every day?
David was a pretty smart little boy and found that closet one day. The story Ron told of David and all of his new toys all at once was hilarious. Ron had a gift with words and I have never forgot the story.
They lived a great life, although way too short.
Thank you to the Branhorst-Gamboa family for still inspiring me today to live the best life I can.

Sunday, September 12, 2010 12:38:00 AM  
Blogger Kergan said...

Thought you might like to see my remembrance of the family:

Wednesday, May 18, 2011 4:38:00 PM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...


Thank you so much for sharing your comment here!


I greatly appreciate the link to your post (also, thanks for plugging my own post over there). It was a good read, albeit bitter-sweet and mournful.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011 10:36:00 PM  
Blogger Edles Lorelie said...

Nothing is coincidence. I came across your blog as i searched for articles on all 21 Filipino-Americans who died on 9-11. I thought of gathering them and emailing the zip file to everyone in my address book. A small way to pay tribute. This was at 8AM today. By 11AM a devastating news comes to me. My sister is gone. Your words, those of Jeannie's and Michelle's, they struck me as poignant as i was reading them. Never knowing their transformation to resonance would come so soon. Nothing is coincidence. Everything is a miracle. As we Filipinos say it, MARAMI SALAMAT.

Friday, September 09, 2011 8:24:00 PM  
Blogger Just Jon said...

Thank you for the lovely tribute that I just found on this eve of the 10 year anniversary of 9/11.

I too knew Ron through The Gap and attended the services for him, Dan and David. At such a somber time I found their service brought a bit of joy from all the love in that church at a time of national tragedy.

I shall never forget.

Sunday, September 11, 2011 12:07:00 AM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

Still remembering...

Tuesday, September 11, 2012 6:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I shared this post on my blog today. Thank you for sharing this special story.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012 12:53:00 PM  
Blogger Luis Sifu said...

I hope you can read this, Wordsmith. Before I begin with my story, I wanna tell you a little of a confusion that happened yesterday and the day before. I enjoy reading about David, he just has this magical thing that no kid has ever had (with me), and I like to picture him as a very happy kid, so I found this site called (Link In which I was just checking his tribute, and I found this really kind woman called Jeannie, which I thought was David's aunt (Ron's sister), and I told my story to the world, she kindly replied thanking me for my post, but she did not know David nor she wrote that tribute. I was a bit embarrassed, but well, I made a friend! (clears throat) But well, this is my story:

So, I was born on July 6, 1998, around 2 weeks later than David. The topic of 9/11 has always intrigued me, so your blogged popped up. I was shocked and, call me crazy, but he kinda looks like me. I cried and cried for him, but well... WE got his beautiful anecdotes and stories. I know my story is kinda short, but, I'm not a native English speaker (shocking) and I really don't know how to express myself, but the point is:
Michele, thank you so much for sharing your story with us. My heart is with you.
Jeannie, thank you for your memories of David,Cheers.
Hammersmith, thank you for writing this blog, it's just so... moving, and... emotional. I literally have no words to describe it.

I actually thought this was gonna be a short post, I had no idea how everyone writes this much, but, well, I let myself go!

Well, I'm not sure if you got anything I just wrote, but I hope you did.

And lastly, to David, give those daddies of yours a big bear hug in heaven!!! Merry Christmas, buddy.

Monday, December 17, 2012 5:33:00 PM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...


I don't remember if I left a comment on your blog, but I did read your post, at the time. Thank you!

Luis Sifu,

Thank you for sharing your story. Glad to know that the memory of David, Ron, and Daniel continues to touch and influence lives.

I will share your comment with David's aunt and make sure she knows it's here.

Thanks to everyone who keeps visiting and reading this blogpost.

Monday, December 17, 2012 9:26:00 PM  
Blogger Luis Sifu said...

I was planning on sending Michele an email, but the AII email doesn't work :(

Thursday, January 03, 2013 6:24:00 PM  
Blogger Julie Gaglione said...

I wondered if this was an open adoption and if David's first mother knows that this happened to him and his an adult adopted person who has met her first mother and father, I should think that what happened to her son would be important to her.

Laura Dennis blogged about David and his first mother ...I noticed that another mother, Jenna, spoke about this as well in the comment section. Wondering about his first father as well...

Wednesday, September 11, 2013 12:26:00 PM  
Blogger Luis Sifuentes said...

Julie Gaglione, from what she says on the comment above, Michele, David's mother got frequent updates from David's fathers through emails, phone calls and such.

It also says Drew, his birth father, knows what happened to David and gave in for some DNA tests, but didn't keep in touch with him.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013 4:00:00 PM  
Blogger Luis Sifuentes said...

Dear Julie Gaglione

Michele, David's mother, posted a comment some years ago a above ours, she says she had frequent contact with David's fathers, through e-mails, phone calls, and such.

The comment also said that Drew, David's first father, did not keep in touch with them and Michele had to tell him.

In any case, it was a very hard process for everyone (not just Michele, Drew and their families), everyone who died on 9/11 had a family, friends and co-workers (or classmates, in David's case) which were deeply affected by their losses.

Today we celebrate 12 years of those wonderful souls who left too soon...

Wednesday, September 11, 2013 4:04:00 PM  
Blogger Luis Sifuentes said...

Dear Julie Gaglione

Michele, David's mother, posted a comment some years ago a above ours, she says she had frequent contact with David's fathers, through e-mails, phone calls, and such.

The comment also said that Drew, David's first father, did not keep in touch with them and Michele had to tell him.

In any case, it was a very hard process for everyone (not just Michele, Drew and their families), everyone who died on 9/11 had a family, friends and co-workers (or classmates, in David's case) which were deeply affected by their losses.

Today we celebrate 12 years of those wonderful souls who left too soon...

Wednesday, September 11, 2013 4:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I first read of David Reed Gamboa-Brandhorst when my son was three years old and I've had Al Qaeda supporters tell me that it doesn't matter that young children die as they go straight to heaven. To me this is evil, of course it matters, young children have a life to live and should be allowed to live it. It has taken me a long time come to terms with the death of a child such as David, such a young and innocent child (and all the other innocent people killed as well, none of them deserved it).

I have to add that I don't agree wi the banner(almost hidden) supporting Israel. Israel has been and is an awful abuser of human rights. It has reduced Palestinians into nothing more than a helot people, to be used and abused as Jewish Israelis insist. It is an apartheit regime and as such needs to be challenged.

Saturday, October 19, 2013 8:17:00 PM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...


Thanks for your comment. As per your last paragraph, keep in mind that this is a center-right political blog; but this post itself should remain relatively politics-free, so as to simply honor the memories of David, Daniel, and Ron.

I don't want this to turn into a political debate over Israel-Palestine; but I reject your (mis)characterization and (mis)perception of the nature, history and state of the conflict.

Saturday, October 19, 2013 9:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, what a truly moving piece.

Although I did not know them personally at all, I often think of David as he was probably the closest to my age at the time of the attacks (I was born in 1996).

I wasn't actually going to post anything but I thought I might comment upon another coincidence I have seen whilst flicking through this tribute and the comments.

Jeannie mentioned David liked 'Toy Story'. In one of the movies, Sarah McLachlan sings 'When she loved me'. This is the same artist who sings the song 'Angel', which helped Michele through the tragedy.

I don't know....Its nice to think that perhaps David and Michele were connected in some way...seems daft I guess...but its a nice thought to have.

RIP David, Daniel and Ronald.

Saturday, November 02, 2013 5:10:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I have no idea if you'll get this comment, but I feel I have to write to you. I tried to look for an e-mail address, but couldn't find it, so hopefully it's OK to post a comment.

I was ten years old in 2001, so basically I shouldn't remember anything about the 9/11. Still, I'm very interested in the people who were there - especially the ones in the airplanes. I think a lot, and maybe that's the reason why I keep on wondering how the passengers felt in their last minutes, what did they do, what did they say and so on.

I don't know why, but I always find myself thinking about David. There's something really bizarre in this 'cause when I first saw his face, I felt like I knew him from somewhere. I don't know how or why, but that face seemed (and still does) so similar to something. It sounds weird, but I feel like missing him although we never met. I never knew him or his parents. And, as I said, I was only a 10-year-old school girl when this happened. But still.

So, I wanted to thank you about this blog post - it is great. I've read it so many times, and it's awesome you've found also some pictures about David and his gorgeous parents. This may sound weird, and I totally understand if you're not willing to do this, but I'd be so happy to hear about you. I would like to know more about this family - not like some curious jerk who wants to read about other people's sorrow, but like a person who's really interested in David's destiny and feels like there was some reason they found David's face from the passenger list.

If you want, you could write me some e-mail. I don't actually know what I'm expecting for you to write, maybe just something about Ron, Daniel and David.

Thank you!

- Hanna

Ps. if you feel so, you can write me to

Monday, November 25, 2013 5:02:00 PM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

Hey Hanna!

Thank you so much for your moving comment. I'm confused though whether you are asking to know a bit more about me or just more about David, Ron, and Daniel.

I will forward this to Ron's sister and she can decide whether to respond to your inquiry or not.

Take care and thanks for expressing yourself. I found your words moving.

Monday, November 25, 2013 9:09:00 PM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

Nice tribute at American Infidel.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014 9:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Doug M. said...

As I said in my original Post late in 2006, I followed through on the tattoo to memorialize little David. I've carried his memory with me every day since, and have begun to acutely feel the loss his family has felt since the day I welcomed my own son into the world. He is the light of my life, and I'm truly sorry that David's was extinguished from yours. As I sit here with tears in my eyes (as every year), I reflect on our losses and hope that we can take some solace in their passing to a better place (if you believe that way). As long as we never forget, they will live on in our memories.

Thursday, September 11, 2014 6:40:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello again!

Thank you SO MUCH for your answer! I really apprecciate it. I know it's been awhile, but it would mean a lot to me if you forwarded my last message to her. (I understand if that feels weird or wrong in her opinion though.)

- Hanna

Monday, September 29, 2014 3:15:00 PM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

Wednesday, September 09, 2015 10:45:00 PM  
Blogger thara said...

Even worse, there was a 1 or 2 year old girl onboard the same plane. She was flying to Disneyland but never arrived there.

Thursday, March 24, 2016 12:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reading today and remembering...



Thursday, September 14, 2017 12:20:00 PM  

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