Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Patrick Thomas Dwyer, 1964-2001

This is a repeat, but he deserves it.

I participated in the 2,996 Project, for which 2,996 bloggers volunteered to write a memorial for one person who perished in the attacks on 9/11.


Patrick Thomas Dwyer, 37, Nissoquogue, NY. Bond trader at Cantor Fitzgerald. Left behind a wife JoAnn, a son Brendan and a daughter Sarah, who were five and three at the time of their father’s death.

When Patrick was randomly assigned to me, I stared at my computer screen blankly for a long time. Weeks, in fact. I wanted to do the right thing by this man, but what do I say which doesn’t become political, maudlin, or somehow all about me? Even the best eulogy becomes as much about the speaker as the departed, and I don’t claim to write a world-class eulogy. The memorial becomes exponentially more difficult when you don’t know the person intimately, and I had no desire to write something general and inane about how he was a nice person and that this was such a tragedy. My first rule with this blog has always been: “Tell the truth, Quinn, as best as you can”, and I certainly wasn’t going to break that rule now.

I never met Patrick Thomas Dwyer. From what I have read about him, this is my loss. Patrick loved what he did for a living and did it well enough to find plenty of time to enjoy his family and friends. He and his wife centered their lives on their kids and their friends and extended family. They loved entertaining.I have never met nor spoken to anyone in his family. I do, however, know what it’s like to have your father die when you are very young.

The brutality of losing a parent when you are a child is that the death continues to reverberate forever. It isn’t a huge single loss; it’s a continuum of huge single losses.Patrick was there to teach his son to ice-skate, but he wasn’t there to teach his daughter.He was there to see his son go to school for the first time, but not his daughter.Brendan will remember him, and probably idolize him his entire life. Sarah might not have anything but filaments of memories from a birthday party or an afternoon at their pool that last summer of 2001 -- memories which are half-real, half constructions from photos she has seen or stories she has heard. Brendan and Sarah will grow up, and laugh, and cry, and slam doors, and graduate, break bones and win awards. And each time something happens in their lives their father will be dead.

Within their family and their community, they will be Patrick and JoAnn’s kids. There will be plenty of people around them eager to tell them what a funny guy their father was, what a sports fan and a true friend, and what a great marriage their parents had. But as they grow up, and make new friends and meet new people, there will always be that hanging question: “You were how old when your father died? When did he die? Oh my God, did he die on 9/11?”At the least likely moments, when all they want to do is be normal and anonymous, they will be forced to embody a national trauma and to relive the greatest pain a family can endure.For a while after my father died, I told inquisitive strangers -- people I never expected to see again -- that my parents had gotten a divorce because that was accepted without further comment. A dead father led to more personal interrogation than I was prepared to undergo. Until my thirties, I would actively avoid telling people he died on the last day of shooting of “The Goodbye Girl”, because the combination of pity and curiosity was nearly unbearable. Brendan and Sarah will never stop being victims of 9/11 and I feel so wretched for some of the stupid and thoughtless things people are going to say to them in years to come.

If Consort gets home late, after Daughter is sleeping, he will always go in and kiss her goodnight. Being a very sound sleeper, she takes this with nothing more than a slight break in her teeth-grinding and maybe a murmured grunt. But Consort doesn’t mind. He says, “She knows I kissed her goodnight. Her skin knows it". With a father who took the 5:20 train every morning to get to his desk at the World Trade Center, I bet Sarah and Brendan had a lot of kisses left upon them when they were sleeping. I hope their skin remembers. I hope his kisses give them some comfort today, and every day of their lives.

JoAnn Dwyer, my condolences on your loss. I wish I had met Patrick. I wish I had no reason to be writing about him.

8 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you Quinn...

I cried for their loss, it was a
beautiful tribute.....

1:14 PM  
Blogger fortylicious said...

Wow. How beautiful. You usually make me laugh. Today you made me cry. But it's ok...a few tears are the least I can offer in tribute to Patrick Dwyer and his family. Thank you.

7:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for the thoughtful reflection. You obviously have every right and ability to write meaningfully about this event.

Even as you wish you had no reason to write, I wish I had no reason to read. But today is a reminder of the reasons for the reading and the writing. Thanks for sharing your gifts and hard-earned insight.

8:02 PM  
Blogger Robin Raven said...

Thank you so much, Quinn.

My father died when I was ten, and I never have read the loss so accurately described. That's exactly what it means to lose a father in childhood.

I love your writing and reading your blog. I finally had to comment.

Thanks for writing that, though I do wish you had no reason to do so.

It helped and touched me. I'll pray for JoAnn, her children, and all those left behind.

Peace, love and luck,
Robin

11:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your blog was so touching..I hope
that JoAnne and her family see it,
and also hope that someday they will put all of them into a book..

thanks

2:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

4 of my college friends(from many
years ago) all read your post..we
love it, we talk about it,but this
one has left all of us so sad, that
we can't comment on it, I know that
life isn't just about birthday parties, pets and lost items,and you do those well,but this one you
did well also..we thank you and we
grieve

8:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Patrick was an amazing person and i will miss him. the thing that i wish i could have done was get to know my cousin better. now throught technogloy i get toget to know his kids, my cousins. We miss Patrick dearly

10:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Patrick was my cousin...our mothers are sisters...he will be in our hearts forever...

5:47 PM  

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