Tower Twins

They Were Inseparable

For 37 years, no matter how hard they tried to be different, Gregory Hoffman and his brother, Stephen, have always been known as "the Twins."

"There was a time there when we really fought it," says Greg. "We would always say, 'I just wish people would accept us as Gregory and Stephen.'"

But there was no fighting the resemblance. Gregory and Stephen were identical twins, born three minutes apart, into a family of 12 kids, just outside New York City.

"You always had a buddy," says Greg. "There was always somebody to play with." They shared everything. Gregory, born first, is officially the older brother.

At Greg's wedding, they wore buttons that said "I'm the groom," and "I'm the best man." "Some people still got confused," says Greg.

They were very close. "It's like having a friend who you never have to worry about what you say, when you say it. You can always count on them - and to the extremes," says Gregory.

Even when they got married, Gregory to Aileen, Stephen to Gabrielle, the twins still shared everything.

"When I was giving birth to Madison," says Aileen, "I was in the height of my labor and Gregory said, 'I'll be right back,' and I said, 'Where are you going?' (He said) 'I'm just going to call Steve.'" Not long after Madison was born, Stephen had a little girl named Madeline.

But Gregory never counted on losing Stephen. The brothers both worked in finance – Stephen as a bond broker in the North Tower of the World Trade Center. He was at his vvdesk on the 104th floor on Sept. 11.

In his office just 20 minutes from the city, Greg could only watch: "When the North Tower collapsed- there was a hole that had just ripped through me. I was helpless. I couldn't do anything. And I couldn't help my brother, my twin brother."

"I know why I feel so bad is a part of me died that day, too," he says. "That's what really happened - part of me died that day."

There were at least 22 twins who died that day in the World Trade Towers… seven of them, including Stephen... were halves of identical sets. If the twin relationship is unique… the loss of a twin is unimaginable.

"Someone said, 'Oh, I can't call Greg "twin" anymore. and I said, 'Oh my God, please don't stop saying that.'"

"I used to consider the word 'twin' a derogatory term towards me, and now I consider it such an endearing - way to express my love for my brother."

Trying to carry on without Stephen has been difficult. He has tried to make life as easy as possible for his niece Madeline, who is 5.

"I'm trying to let her know that 'Madeline, it's OK to cry for your daddy and he's always going to be looking out for you. He's not gonna be there, but he's always gonna be watching out for you. but I'm going to be here.'"

"We went somewhere with Gregory, and Madeline couldn't take her eyes off of him," says Gabrielle, Stephen's wife. "I've never seen Madeline that enamored with Gregory. She just tared at him." Gabrielle says that her daughter is not confused, and knows the difference between her uncle and her father. Madeline agrees.

Greg's resemblance to Stephen is sometimes difficult for Gabrielle to handle. "It's comforting, and it's hard," she says.

It's also hard for Gregory, who is trying to do double duty, while struggling with his own grief. But he has discovered some joy as well. He says that Madeline reminds him of Stephen.

In this way, Madeline may be helping him as well. "People's greatest fear is to be forgotten. And I know that Stephen will never be forgotten," says Gregory.

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