In her head, Marion Otten has a treasure chest of memories of her husband. One of her favorites is from the day their first son was born. As she was wheeled into the recovery room, Marion saw Michael Otten sitting there with their newborn child in his arms, grinning from ear to ear.

There are other memories, too. Michael playing football with their three sons on the front lawn of their East Islip home, or disappearing with the two older sons on a boys-only camping trip.

His best friend, fellow firefighter Ray Pfiefer, has a head full of memories of Otten, too. "The crazy fire stories, the fun times, the crazy times," he said. "I can't even tell you them all."

Now, Otten's wife and best friend share a new and far more disturbing memory. On Thursday, Pfiefer accompanied Marion Otten to Lower Manhattan. She wanted to see the mountains of debris where the World Trade Center used to be, so that she could begin to understand that she will never see her husband of 14 years again.

Before, Marion Otten didn't want to think about planning a funeral for her husband. She said she didn't want to give up hope. But after seeing the rubble, she turned to Pfiefer with a new resolve.

"I want something for the box," she said. "I don't care what it takes."

Michael Otten, 42, always called his wife whenever there was a fire on television, and Sept. 11 was no exception. At a quarter to nine, Marion Otten picked up the phone in their home during her hectic morning routine.

"Hurry up," her husband said. "Turn the TV on."

That was before the Twin Towers fell, before the enormity of that day's tragedy became apparent, and Marion Otten was trying to rush their sons - Christopher, 11, Jonathan, 8 and Jason, 5 - off to school. She only had time for a quick look before turning back to the phone.

"I'll talk to you later," she said. "Bye."

Unlike the thousands of people who placed panicked calls from inside the World Trade Center, Michael Otten's calm call came from the comfort of his Manhattan firehouse on 66th Street. Otten's wife didn't feel she needed to worry about her husband unnecessarily. In fact, she worried more about her brother, also named Michael Otten, who worked on the 80th floor of Tower Two. He got out unharmed.

But that phone call would be the last time that she would speak to her husband. Michael Otten would soon respond to the disaster along with the other members of Manhattan's Ladder Co. 35. Eleven men from that firehouse are now missing or dead. Otten is still officially among the missing.

Those who care about him have spent the days since the attack remembering all the things they loved about Otten.

His mother, Teresa Otten, said that she kept thinking about how her son, a third generation firefighter, was a "wonderful husband," and a "Mr. Mom who loved doing the shopping and the cooking and was extremely devoted to his family."

His wife said he was "just a big kid himself. He loved coaching our two oldest in soccer, or playing roller hockey with the family. He was an amazing man."