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A sister remembers: Laura Ann Marchese

Laura Ann Marchese, 35, was an executive assistant at Alliance Consulting on the 102nd floor of the north tower.

A sister remembers

On Sept. 1, 2001, Laura Ann Marchese moved into the house in Oceanside she had bought with her longtime boyfriend, Joseph Mendez. They were planning to marry.

Ten days later, from her job on the 102nd floor of the north tower, Marchese managed to call Mendez just after the first plane struck, saying, "I'm OK; I'm being checked out." So in the hours, days and weeks that followed, her sister, Cathy Marchese-Collins, believed she was simply missing.

"Because of what Joe said, I thought, like everyone else, that she was walking around with amnesia, that somebody else was taking care of her," Marchese-Collins, of West Babylon, said. "You have your own little fantasies . . . your heart tells you something and your mind tells you something else."

Shortly before the first anniversary of the attacks, her family was notified that Marchese's remains had been found.

"She loved life," said Marchese-Collins, who said her sister loved skiing and rollerblading.

Marchese-Collins said that without her sister -- the baby of the family -- the whole life of their family changed. Mendez and Marchese had come over every week, for dinner, to play card games or board games. Since Sept. 11, "it's very lonely," she said. "It's a totally different existence."

It's especially hard to think about what her sister has missed. Marchese-Collins and her husband, who had tried for years without success to get pregnant, have adopted a son, Michael Anthony, now 7.

"The kid looks just like us," she said. "I truly believe Laura had a hand in it." -- Melanie Lefkowitz

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