The world lost a hero this past Wednesday. His name is Michael Schornstein. He was 48 years and 1 day old, husband to Stephanie and father to 3 adorable children under the age of 5. He was a son and brother. He was a friend to so, so many.
I first met Michael several years ago when he and my daughter’s best friend in high school, Stephanie, came to visit from New York. What struck me most was his genuine smile. I was so delighted to see Stephanie as happy as she was.
Then in 2013 I was in New Jersey working in recovery efforts related to Hurricane Sandy. I took one Saturday to go up to New York City and meet Stephanie and Michael for a day in Chinatown and Little Italy. Stephanie was pregnant with their first child and they both were so happy.
Stephanie got me to try Bubble Tea for the first (and, I’m sorry, last) time and they took me to a wonderful china shop where I was able to get some dishes that Cindy wanted. We walked through Chinatown and Little Italy just visiting and talking and then they took me to a delightful bakery called Ferraro’s before I caught the train back to New Jersey.
It was the last time I saw Michael, though we stayed in touch via Facebook where I loved seeing the photos he would post of their three beautiful children.
Michael was a firefighter, rank of Captain, who had worked, along with thousands of other first responders in recovery efforts on and after 9/11. A couple of years ago he became very ill, no doubt as a result of that work. He underwent extensive treatment that seemed to promise recovery.
Then suddenly, one day after his 48th birthday, he was gone. A husband, father, son, brother, and friend was gone.
The world became a bit dimmer with the absence of his smile and his presence. And though he will remain in our hearts, we will miss him and his part in our lives and the lives of those we love.
The world has lost a hero.
If you’re reading this, please keep his wife Stephanie, his three beautiful, young children and his family in your thoughts.
R.I.P. Captain Michael Schornstein, and thank you for all you were to us.
CORRECTION: Stephanie shared some updated clarifications – Michael was not a 9/11 responder and though he was part of a volunteer fire department, he was not a firefighter. He was with their Ambulance Corps and Captain of the EMT group. I apologize for any misunderstanding I may have caused.