Sunday, May 01, 2011

Patrick Thomas Dwyer 1964-9/11/2001

Tonight, I run this for him. 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.

18 Comments:

Anonymous Barbara said...

Justice has been served for this family and all the thousands of others. Quinn, how beautiful and poignant, thank you for a wonderful and thought-provoking rerun.

9:33 PM  
Blogger knit one, knit two said...

Thank you for this beautiful post. I pray he and his family will be at peace now.

3:35 AM  
OpenID timwarp said...

That was lovely, Quinn.

6:56 AM  
Blogger Nancy in PA said...

Well done, Quinn.

8:33 AM  
Anonymous Chris in NY said...

What a perfect response to recent events. Thanks.

9:28 AM  
Blogger Michaéle said...

Beautifully appropriate. I hope each and every family member who lost a loved one on 9/11 has at least some tiny ray of hope and justice in their hearts today.

9:53 AM  
Anonymous Shari said...

That was beautiful. Blinking back tears now

12:25 PM  
Anonymous LisaF said...

That was one of the most lovely things I've ever read. Nice work.

8:30 PM  
Anonymous Kimberly said...

While I did not know a soul that perished on 9/11, I have lost a mother, 6 grandparents, 3 aunts, 1 uncle and a cousin. Oddly enough, your loving words written for someone I did not know on a coast I have yet to visit, could, in many ways, have been written for me.
Which poignantly reminds me of the universality of loss and how we are more alike than we are different.

6:26 AM  
Blogger Suzanna Catherine said...

I hope Joanne Dwyer and her children read this tribute to Patrick. Thank you for sharing it with us.

8:52 AM  
Anonymous Lydia said...

I got chills as I read your tribute. Beautifully done.

10:13 AM  
Blogger BMHicks said...

Beautiful, Quinn. And genuinely from the heart. Thank you for writing it and sharing it with us all.

11:50 AM  
Anonymous Lita said...

Lovely, lovely tribute Quin. Well done.

4:39 PM  
Anonymous Susan Updike said...

Quinn - you are a treasure.
Susan

5:40 PM  
Blogger DB said...

This was beautiful. My son's best friend lost his mother that day (he was 11) and your words really hit home. Thank you!

7:48 AM  
Blogger Char said...

i'm glad justice was done

2:33 PM  
Blogger Kim said...

So sad and moving. And you're right, I do now want to ask how your father died.Not because it happened on a particular day, but because I now know you can talk about it.

1:02 AM  
Blogger Nancy said...

Absolutely perfect.

3:18 PM  

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