Bryan Jack could have been a cliché. Tall, lanky, and slightly awkward, he was a mathematical genius who drove quirky Saabs and sported haircuts that never seemed to be just right. When I lived with my parents in Alexandria, Virginia, he was our next-door neighbor. The neighbor who would rescue me from a missed Metro bus, the neighbor who would treat me for bagels at Chesapeake Bagel Bakery, the neighbor who would drive me back to college with a load of freshly laundered clothes after a visit with Mom and Dad.
As the budget analyst/director of the programming and fiscal economics division for the Defense Department, Bryan worked at the Pentagon, where he had commuted almost daily for the past 23 years.
But on September 11, 2001, he was not working at the Pentagon. No. Instead he was looking over his notes, preparing to give a lecture later at the Naval Post Graduate School. He was on a nonstop flight to California. American Airlines Flight 77. The flight that hit the Pentagon. He was 48.
Life with multiple sclerosis can be unfair. But life can be unfair for a lot of reasons.