Dedicated to a Brother
My hair was long
You still had hair.
Summer was long too and sung the grass into greens barbs.
We gulped the air,
Our hair blasted by the wind,
Heroes of time.
Now you are gone,
The same wind took you – your friendship, your light, your heart.
I look at the picture of us at 20 years old.
Boldly harnessing the trees and the Earth’s good ground.
Your young face like the sun itself, beaming relentlessly.
The world stood still.
And there we were (had we known) with life bristling through us.
Our vigor grew the grass and the mountains, and lit the stars too.
All there is to say is that all the memories we shared as longtime friends will always be in my heart and soul.
We had a lot of laughs,
and great times at the house with Tina and Zeboida.
All the late nights hanging out I will never forget the most,
because of all the talking and music listening we did that was the best. I pray one day to see you in Heaven and we can catch up on lost time. Remember one thing,
my dear friend, NO ONE can take the true friendship we had away from our memories in our heart and soul.
Your friend Joseph John Olivio"
Click here for newspaper article
April 11, 2002 --
Today we are mourning the 7 month anniversary of the day you were so horribly taken from us
when we should be celebrating your 35th birthday.
My birthday is tomorrow and I am remembering the birthday celebrations we shared -- cards, gifts, chocolate cake -- my favorite & Joshua's too! How many were at Easter time, which we always spent together as a family. Birthday parties, weekends in the Poconos, Yankees v. Mets arguments (our continuing battle for the baseball affections of your sons), Christmas plays, Radio City, Christmas Eve dinners -- the memories are everywhere.
Seven months later and the pain is as raw and deep as ever. Time has not helped at all -- it only seems to have made it worse; your loss has become a cruel and bitter reality.
Paul, I know that you are in a better place and I know I should find some comfort in that;but I am not yet at that place. Your father has more faith than I do, but no less pain. He is completely and utterly heartbroken. I often find him weeping uncontrollably. I can find no words to console him -- how can I tell him that it will be okay, that it will get better?
It is said that April is the cruelest month. How true that is -- your birthday, mine and your dad's. I cannot go into a card store without crying; nothing is the same anymore.
So today, my dear brave firefighter hero, on the day you would have been just 35, I ask that you give your family and friends the gift of strength we all so desperately need; and as a special birthday gift to me, the faith which I seem to have lost.
Maybe then I can be as brave in facing life as you were in facing death.
April 11, 2002 will be your 35th birthday, and although I am sad and still cry often, I wanted to share the following with all who read this message on your memorial site.
Whatever the nature of our relationships with Paul,
we pause today to remember my son's birthday, to celebrate his life and also to give thanks to God for having the privilege of knowing & loving Paul and sharing life with him. Today we come together with our different memories of that much too brief life. We come to share those memories and experiences. We come to remember that each of those memories and experiences was a gift from God, given as a blessing as we have walked along our journey of life.
You were a good Dad and Son,Paul and I know you are now watching over us. Last December,I was selected to carry the Olympic Torch in your memory,along with your brother firefighters, Andy S., Joe C & other family members from your firehouse. That was a true honor, and I thank you.
In order to memorialize that event, with your inspiration,I designed and made a plaque to hold the Torch with Engine 54/Truck 4/Battalion 9 logo, "Pride of Midtown" motto & the FDNY Symbol. There is a marble piece inscribed with all the names of the 15 firefighters from 48th & 8th who gave their lives on September 11th. I know this is what you would have wanted, and it is my Birthday Gift to you this year.
Paul,you know I never did anything like this before in my entire life. Yet while I was working, I felt your presence and your artist's hands guiding mine with each letter and inscription. All who have seen it so far have said how beautiful it is. There will be a dedication in May in your name and your Firehouse has reserved a special place just for this. Also, at the end of April, I will bring the Torch and history to Joshua’s school so that all the students can pass the Olympic Torch amongst them. Who knows, maybe a future Olympian will develop from the experience.
Happy Birthday, my son. Not a day goes by that I do not miss you terribly. I love you very much.
- Not a day goes by that I don't think of you my little brother.
As I write this on your 35th Birthday, April 11th,
I'm listening to the casette tape you made of the Beatles
- - it makes me feel closer to you.
Although you're no longer here on earth,
I feel your spirit helping me through these difficult times.
Thank you for being with me.
Shine on you crazy diamond!
And I'm sure this will be your best birthday ever....
up in Heaven with God and his Angels.
"God saves all of our tears in a bottle."
On September 11th, 2001 civilization and humanity
were interrupted by an evil that dwells in the hearts of barbarians.
On that day the tears of many were overwhelming but they could not overwhelm the capacity of Our Loving Father to collect and contain these tears of unfathomable grief.
On that day, my nephew Paul John Gill Firefighter and Hero from Engine 54 Midtown with 14 other Heroic Firefighters put living flesh onto the words of a song, "The Impossible Dream," from the play "The Man of La Mancha". Some of the lyrics of that song became personified in the 343 Firefighters in their selfless devotion.
These 343 were to bear with unbearable sorrow and to run where the brave dare not go.
And the world will be better for this -- that 343 torn and covered with scares still strove with their last ounce of courage to reach the unreachable star.
This is my Quest, to follow that star no matter how hopeless, no matter how far.
These 343 were willing to March Into Hell for a Heavenly cause.
And the song ends thusly:
"And I know, if I'll only be true, to this glorious quest that my heart will find peace, when I'm lain to my rest"
My nephew Paul, a young dad with two sons has been taken from this world. The ultimate sacrifice given to preserve life...this is love.
I have a favorite picture of my newphew Paul carrying my own son Matthew. The picture was taken in 1985.
That picture shows an 18 year old Paul carrying an 8 year old Matt on his shoulders. Smiles beam from top to bottom of that wonderful photograph. There is a trust in that photo that says "I will not drop you";
"I have you, no need for worry."
I can only imagine that as Firefighter Paul John Gill carried out his duties within the FDNY, that anyone who had to rely on his strength, they could echo those words too!
And as Firefighter Paul John Gill was carried to Heaven, Our Heavenly Father would say "I have you, no need to worry"
There is not a day that goes by that I do not remember my nephew. The Scripture from God's Word says that there will be a time in the future when there will be no more sorrow and no more tears. Ah, that will be a day of great Joy in Heaven..and I will see my nephew again in the land of the LIVING.
God keep you, my nephew.
With much love,
Your Uncle Bill
We all miss you so much. We cannot express how honored we are that we were a part of your life. You brought us many laughs and so many good times. Now you bring us incredible pride when we think of you and what you did for humanity. You made the supreme sacrifice, by giving your life to save so many. Because of a choice you made as a young boy, we are totally confident that today you are in the presence of your Heavenly Father enjoying and sitting at HIS feet.
I know this because shortly after 9/11, a lady at my church shared a vision with me -- a vision she had about you. This is what she shared. "I saw Jesus in the rubble. HE was crying. He said those who had ears to hear were reminded of His promise. I will never leave you or forsake you, I will be with you to the very end." He was also saying, "you will be comforted when you are persecuted, you will have your rewards. Know that I am with you in the midst of every storm." After hearing this vision, which was prayed over you, I knew beyond any doubt that today you are in the presence of your Heavenly Father resting and enjoying the glory which you earned.
The morning of September 11th, your dad & I just got off a plane from Maui in Los Angeles Airport, on our way home from our long overdue honeymoon. Moments later, we witnessed the attacks unfold on television. My first thought on seeing the Trade Center on fire was of you. I knew you would be there; the question was when would you be there. Your dad put it best: in a matter of minutes, we went from "Paradise to Hell." It was hours before we were able to reach New York to discover that indeed you were working that day -- had gone into work in the morning -- and would have been one of the first units to respond.
I can't believe that was only a year ago -- it feels like ten. Our lives are now defined by 9/11 -- before & after. But I have trouble remembering what life was like before.
I can't remember ever seeing your father look happy, ever seeing him without tears in his eyes. Paul, I bet you never saw your dad cry. He cries all the time now. He was always so strong, so nurturing; his job was to take care of you, to keep you safe. When we got word in California that you were missing, I thought he would die from the pain and grief; I felt I would die just watching him -- his pain and mine was too much to bear.
I can't remember ever feeling joy or happiness. I can't remember ever sleeping through the night. I can't remember ever waking up from a nightmare to discover it was only a dream -- to thank God it wasn't true. I can't remember looking at an airplane and not seeing a weapon. I can't remember going through a day without crying. I can't remember not feeling this unrelenting anguish, this overwhelming sadness.
I can't remember being able to look at or hold Aaron and Joshua without my heart breaking, without wanting to hug them so hard that I will crush them.
I do remember sitting in the audience on the day you graduated from "Probie" school, watching you being sworn in as a member of New York's Bravest. I do remember being so worried about you and so proud of you at the same time. I do remember praying to God to watch out for you, to protect you -- to please, please keep you safe.
Recently, someone asked me, "What would Paul want for you?" I know that you would want us to be happy again; to go on with our lives; to mourn your passing, but to celebrate your spirit. That is what your dad and I are trying to do -- to live the rest of our lives with the same courage, honor and selflessness you showed on 9/11. This is the way we can best honor you, and I promise you that we will try.
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