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Teen Who Lost His Dad on 9/11 Overcame His Fear of Elevators and Went Up 102 Floors in the World Trade Center

Teen Who Lost His Dad on 9/11 Overcame His Fear of Elevators and Went Up 102 Floors in the World Trade Center

Even though Gabi missed the chance of meeting his father by six days, he's still connected to him.

Sales executive Ariel Jacobs was attending a meeting at the famed New York City restaurant Windows in the World Trade Center on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, when the American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon. Jacobs lost his life just five days before what would have been his 30th birthday, and six days before his widow Jenna gave birth to their son, Gabriel Jacobs Dick, according to PEOPLE

Now 19, and a junior at SUNY Purchase College, Gabi says, "Losing my dad was life-altering, not life-changing."

"It altered my path from day one. It was like the butterfly effect — the way that every event leads into the next. A chain reaction." Because of what happened to his dad, Gabi grew up with a fear of airplanes, elevators, and tall buildings. "I always avoided elevators and flew only when I had to," he says. "That's where my dad was right before." But, Gabi knew it was time for him to overcome his fears. 



 

"I thought, 'I can do that — go up the elevator. And if I can do that, hopefully, I have nothing to be afraid of — at least in regards to elevators,' " he says, because, as he sees it, "The point of terrorism is to instill fear in the minds of your victims. So in a sense, if you're terrorized, they're successful." Gabi decided to take the dreaded elevator ride up 102 floors to get to the One World Observatory at the World Trade Center. "As soon as I go up there, there's a risk," said Gabi, who believed he was cursed. "I'm going up there — of course it's going to happen to me," he kept thinking to himself. 

"Being up there, I felt a crazy release of tension, like everything was going to be okay; I'm alive and I don't have to think like that anymore," he says. "When I looked out over the city, I thought, 'This was the last view my dad had — it's not the last view I will have.' "

Even though Gabi missed the chance of meeting his father by six days, he's still connected to him. "The only times I feel connected to him in a sort of magical sense is when I do something goofy and my mom looks at me in the way she does when I do something he would have done. That's when I think there's something here that can't be explained."

There was also an instance where it seemed like his father was watching over him.



 

"I only asked him to help me once," recalls Gabi. "When I was 14, my brother Brenner and I had each caught a fish but not my second brother Wesley, and I said, 'Dad if you're out here, send Wesley a fish,' and then boom, the line starts going. I thought, 'Wow, did that just work?' I haven't tried it again. I didn't want to push my luck." 

Gabi's mom, Jenna Jacobs McPartland, who has since remarried, says that though there have been moments of absolute despair, there have been fun times too, while Gabi was growing up.  "One of the most fun things in my life is to see him grow up and be his mom. He turned out to be such a fantastic young man who's interesting, opinionated, evolving, and funny." 

"I have wanted him to grow up, be his own person and make his own decisions on how to handle his dad's memory and the legacy of 9/11, and I'm happy he's doing that. Gabi lives in the present, and that's great for him." 



 

As Gabi sees it, "I can't imagine my dad would want me to think about it all the time or ask myself crazy what-if questions. There's no answer. If I died I wouldn't want my kid to think about it all the time." 

"Now I honor him by being alive, being happy and living a great life," he adds. "My 9/11 story ends with, 'I'm okay. I'm 19. My story is still evolving.' "

References:

https://people.com/human-interest/teen-born-6-days-after-his-father-died-on-9-11-takes-feared-elevator-ride/

Cover Image Source: YouTube | PEOPLE (The Children of 9/11: Hope & Healing 20 Years Later)

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