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Grieving for their son: One family's story

By Gary Tuchman

(CNN) -- Jonathan Cappello would have celebrated his 24th birthday on September 29.

Usually, that day would be one of celebration for Jonathan, his parents Claudia and Bob Cappello, his two brothers, and several friends. Instead, the family mourned him and remembered his life, lost September 11 when the World Trade Center was attacked by terrorists.

A New Jersey family spends its youngest son's birthday grieving his loss in the World Trade Center attack. CNN's Gary Tuchman reports (September 30)

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"Jonathan loved life," says his mother. "From the time they handed him to me on September 29th ... he went to bed happy, he woke up happy and everything was happy in between."

Jonathan Cappello was one of the many workers of Cantor Fitzgerald, the bond-trading firm that lost several hundred employees in the tragedy. He had only been on the job for three months. The morning of the attack, he was at work on the 105th floor, doing at his job as an international bond trader.

"Everybody says we're supposedly at war, or we're starting a war," says Claudia Cappello. "I did not send my son to war. I sent him to work."

For more than a week, the Cappellos kept the faith. Maybe their son was alive under the rubble. Maybe he had somehow escaped. He is still missing.

His mother, however, says she has now accepted Jonathan's fate after feeling her son's spirit visit her.

"It was not wings floating around," she says. "He told me ... 'Mom, it's enough. I'm here, but I'm whole, I came with my body.' For that I was grateful. And that's when I knew it."

The family gathered the day before the memorial service to watch a videotape of him at his brother's wedding. On the tape, Jonathan jokes, offering a tribute to his brother.

The Capellos ponder the last time they spoke with their son.

"As he said to me every day, 'Thanks for the ride, Papa, I'll see you tonight," says Bob Cappello.

"The last thing I said to him, and the last thing he said to me -- what we said to each other every night for 23 years -- I go, 'I love you, Jonny,' " says Claudia Cappello. "And he says, 'I love you, pumpkin. You're my woman.' It was 11 o'clock at night. That was it."

On September 29, the Cappellos remembered Jonathan Cappello's birthday. They remembered it at his memorial service.


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