04 October, 2005

Update to "It's That Date Again"

Since I've been on vacation, I've found the the time to unpack all my books. So, I finally found the piece of paper I was looking for when I made this post.

When I sang in the Rolling Requiem for the victims of 9-11-01, I wore the name of Richard P. Fitzsimons printed on a heart-shaped nametag over my own heart. As I wrote here before, it was a physical weight that pressed down so hard that I couldn't take a full breath.

A character sketch of Mr. Fitzsimons was published in the NY Times on September 27, 2001:

Richard Fitzsimons, of Lynbrook, N.Y., kept his Irish roots well watered. For him, a visit to Ireland was going home, said Colleen, his daughter. He last saw Dublin in the summer, when he ate, drank and danced for 13 hours to celebrate a niece's wedding.

At home, he kept busy. In his job as a fire safety inspector at the World Trade Center, he conducted drills and planned evacuations. He was, Ms. Fitzsimons said, almost certainly "saving people right from the start."

Mr. Fitzsimons golfed and coached a working men's ice hockey team. He belonged to the Ancient Order of Hibernians and had studied Gaelic with Patricia, his wife.

At 57, he was keeping his life interesting by starting fresh. He was toying with the idea of another career as a guidance counselor or as a travel agent. Two years ago, he began taking piano lessons. He and his wife would spend evenings at home, singing old tunes while he played along.
[After the requiem, I remember looking up his name on the Internet and reading that he was last seen helping to evacuate a childcare center at one of the WTC towers. I can no longer find that reference.]

When we finished singing, we were encouraged to write a note on the back of the tags we had worn so heavily. I sat thinking for quite awhile; I knew that words could ring hollow, and I had no idea how his family had coped in the year since his death, or even how old he was (I hadn't yet had the opportunity to research his name). I finally wrote, with a heartfelt prayer that it would be true, "May God Bless and Comfort You." Then I signed my name and the location of the Requiem performance. The name tags were collected and sent to the respective families. I have heard nothing about Mr. Fitzsimons and his family since that day, but I hope that his widow and children have found some peace--and even joy--in these intervening years.

I will most-definitely Never Forget.