Last Friday, the New York Post reported that Officer Gary Mausberg, of the 73rd Precinct, succumbed to cancer of the kidneys. He was 47 years old. The Patrolmen's Benevolent Association is looking into whether Mausberg's illness was the result of his service during his years at the Midtown South precinct, which was in close proximity to the World Trade Center when the air in the area was contaminated.
I travel in a lot of political circles all over the country. People that have lived through 9/11 – or around it – have a slightly different experience. We lost people we knew. We are still losing them sometimes. It is why when Joe Biden ridicules Rudy Giuliani for talking about 9/11, he doesn't realize the magnitude of how it touched New Yorkers.
I read that article and saw the headline about an officer dying and before I looked into the body of the story I did what we all do if you lived through this – or around it. I hoped I didn't know this guy. But I did. I knew Gary Mausberg. I played golf with Gary. I had beers with Gary. We lost touch when he and his ex-wife Diane got divorced, but he was as liked by his old friends as he was by his new friends and family. His wake was a sea of blue uniforms. He was a cop's cop. He was a delegate in his police union.
Gary, knowing he was dying, took to traveling and living his last year to the fullest with his wife Margaret. He even wrote his own prayer card. Three large clipboards of pictures showed Gary in the Navy; Gary at Jets games; Gary drinking beer; and Gary recently, when he seemed to have aged 30 years in a short time.
I wasn't sure – and the PBA is not sure – if 9/11 took Gary's kidneys. But nobody took his life.