Growing Up A Child Of 9/11

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Brendan Fitzpatrick, of Westchester, was just two years old when his father died in the Sept. 11 terror attack.

The now 17-year-old high school senior always wears a silver bracelet bearing his father’s name, Thomas.

“I wear this bracelet to remind me of my father,” Fitzpatrick said.

For Thomas’ widow, it’s her son who serves as her reminder of the husband she lost that fateful day.

“He looks like him and there’s a lot of gestures. I kind of wonder how he got those because I don’t really know how he ended up with them so they have to be inside of him,” Marianne Fitzpatrick said. “He definitely is talkative, he’s very friendly, I think a lot of people like him and he’s very adventurous.”

Brendan doesn’t remember his father, but is often told that he’s just like him.

“My dad was always very happy, he always had a smile on his face, he was sometimes being a little mischievous, I’m not as mischievous as my father was, but I definitely try to make everyone smile and I always keep a smile on my own face,” Brendan said.

Marianne tries to keep the memory of her husband alive for their children.

“He’s definitely a part of them and I think that it’s important for them to get a sense of who their father was,” she said. “Even though they may not realize it, I think it sometimes help to shape who they are. Even just dealing with the loss has definitely shaped them into becoming more resilient, a little more tolerant sometimes and I think they definitely have gotten qualities from their dad that they don’t realize.”

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Marianne Fitzpatrick (Photo by Peter Haskell/WCBS 880)

Marianne and Thomas were childhood sweethearts and had been married for seven years when his life was tragically cut short at the age of 35.

“We had a lot of good times together,” she said. “He was a good guy, he was a good friend, he never forgot a birthday, he would always make a phone call, he was a good family person, he loved his kids a lot.”

She spoke to Thomas, who worked for Sandler O’Neill on the 104th floor of Tower 2, on the day of the attacks.

“He was supposedly leaving, a bunch of guys that came down said that he was with them, he went back to get something,” she said. “When the tower fell I thought that he was gone…I think at that moment I knew but you never know, you always have that little bit of glimmer.”

Over the years, Brendan has found a measure of comfort with Tuesday’s Children, a non-profit for the kids of 9/11 victims.

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Brendan Fitzpatrick (Photo by Peter Haskell/WCBS 880)

“We talk about our own personal losses and how they’ve impacted us and I feel like having that open space is extremely important because otherwise we wouldn’t be able to speak about it,” he said.

The Fitzpatrick family marks the anniversary at The Rising, Westchester County’s 9/11 memorial. Every year they write heartfelt messages on balloons they release to the heavens.

“I think it’s a fantastic tradition, I always loved doing it,” Brendan said. “When I was little I didn’t see the significance of it…but as I’ve gotten older the balloons have gotten a lot longer. Last year, I filled the entire balloon from the top to the bottom with just stuff that I wanted to tell my dad about.”

As Brendan grows older and prepares to enter college in a year, he said he will continue to carry his father with him in his heart.

“I just try to be as positive as I can for everyone. I want to be there for everyone,” the teen said.

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