I remember the first day I met him, the first day of college. He was wearing a blue polo shirt that made his eyes twinkle. I would later learn that they twinkled all the time. His name was Patrick--never Pat. He lived right below us and he looked like Tom Cruise. No kidding. This was shortly after Risky Business was all the rage and looking like Tom Cruise gave you some notoriety.
He had a girlfriend at home. When she came to visit, she stayed with me. (I think Patrick did this to make a statement to my roommate, who really wanted that girlfriend out of her way;-) My heart was 2 hours away; when I need a "duty date" to some function or another, he obliged. He wasn't a typical fraternity guy. Instead, he liked to shake things up a bit. So he started his own fraternity that first year.
His brother was in the cast of the then-hit TV show Dallas. We had Dallas parties in his suite every week. He talked about his parents all the time. And always, always, he made it very clear that when he was finished with this southern institution of education, he was heading home to New Jersey to work in Manhattan.
And he did, because if anything defined Patrick Sean Murphy, it was his strong will. Patrick loved to play basketball at the rec center behind our dorm. It didn't matter that he was only 5'9". He had that will--he willed himself to play tall. And he had quite the three point shot.
He also had a very strong sense of justice. The only argument we ever had was when he thought I'd overstepped the rules of sorority rush in a private conversation with his girlfriend (who eventually came to UVA too). In the end, I won that argument (which still amazes me) and he understood that I was careful not to break any rules, while still offering a sounding board to Cindy. I remember the conversation so well because I remember the sting of his disapproval and how much it hurt to think I'd let him down. And I think of the conversation often even now. If sorority rush rules evoked an impassioned discourse from him, what would he think about the people and politics that took him from his family? What would justice look like to Patrick Murphy?
He was the father of two children and a devoted husband on September 11, 2001. He died that day in Manhattan.
I remember you, Patrick. I see you holding court on a late summer day in 1983, on the hill in front of Balz, directing directing traffic, making every other nervous first year student laugh at their very nervousness, and I see you twinkling, always twinkling. Rest in peace.