She left behind many who loved her, her husband Jim, and her beloved daughter, Patricia Mary, just two years old on 9/11. As Michael Daly writes below, mother and daughter today, ten years on, bespeak "the opposing tides of the receding past and the onrushing future." What a beautiful story he tells . . .
New York Daily News, by Michael Daly, August 19, 2011:
|NYPD Officer Moira Smith, at work, September 11, 2001|
"From two to 12."
Patricia Smith was using her age to measure the passage of time since 9/11 and the murder of her uncommonly heroic mother.
"To everyone, it's been 10 years," observed the daughter of Police Officer Moira Smith. "It seems like five."
That was surprising coming from a 12-year-old, for it had been virtually her whole life since that day her mother led stunned and bleeding people from the twin towers - only to run back in and perish with so many other heroes in the effort to rescue more.
I had last seen Patricia when she was 2, striding across the stage at Carnegie Hall with her father at the NYPD's medal ceremony after 9/11.
She was wearing a red velvet dress and shiny black shoes as she received the posthumous Medal of Honor on her mother's behalf.
Now, she sat with her father at the Il Vagabondo restaurant in Manhattan, nearly a teen, wearing a light blue V-neck T-shirt, a smart phone seemingly attached to her hand.
A blue bracelet on her wrist might have been mistaken as a tween fashion accessory were it not for the inscription: "P.O. Moira Smith 9/11 Never Forget."
Not that she and her father, retired cop Jim Smith, ever would or could forget. When you remember Moira you hold onto what is most dear in the opposing tides of the receding past and the onrushing future.
Never forgetting can indeed make 10 years feel like five, even when they extend back to the very start of your memories.
Each of those years was marked by a solemn anniversary observance at Ground Zero, reminding Patricia of the lives her mother saved there.
"It's just good to be there and see what effect my mom had on people," Patricia said.
On the wall above where Patricia sat was a framed photograph taken in this same restaurant of Moira holding her when she was not yet 1.
Moira and Jim had made a tradition of coming to this Italian spot on St. Patrick's Day to celebrate being Irish in the particular way of a couple who loved each other's company best of all.
"Eat Italian food, play bocce," Jim said.
The photo was taken on St. Patrick's Day of 2000, the first after Patricia's arrival had made the perfect pair a family of three.
Moira beams with the excitement of all that seemed sure to come. That was also what she knew she stood to lose in the burning south tower a year later.
The baby held by her mother in the photo was now the 12-year-old sitting at the table with her father. Patricia has grown to look even more like her mother. Her eyes have that same excitement as she talks about school.
She loves to read and she is a straight-A student, taking honors English and honors history.
"And preintegrated algebra," she said. "I like algebra."
She figures on trying out for field hockey, volleyball, basketball and softball. She is an accomplished equestrian, competing with her horse Woodlands Misty Morning, and she has an equine dream.
"I want to canter on a police horse," she said.
She has no ambitions to become a police officer, though NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly keeps a photo of him with her on his desk.
At school, she had a chance to work with some of the younger kids and she thinks she might want to teach. She is a fledgling writer whose recent efforts include a school assignment called "My Hero."
"Some of the traits used to describe a hero are selflessness, dedication and bravery. . . These qualities were possessed by my mom, Police Officer Moira Smith. . .
"Moira had courage because she rushed into a burning building that was about to collapse to save people when she knew she could die at any second . . . Moira was unselfish because she gave her life to save other people's lives . . . Moira had dedication because she loved her job and saving people. She always tried hard doing it. . .
"A hero can be anyone . . . They can be tall, short, American or Colombian. My hero is my mom, Police Officer Moira Smith . . . Moira is missed and never forgotten."
At the approach of the 10th anniversary, a full decade that feels like half that, Patricia posed for another picture in Il Vagabondo, this with her father.
"Not yet," Jim said "Not until your next birthday."
She retracted one.
"This many," she said.
"Yes, you're 2," Jim said.
And here she was, a 12-year-old who likes algebra, smiling in the embrace of her father and the memory of her mother.
The camera clicked and along with the old photo on the wall there was a new one of the daughter who has become all Moira Smith could have possibly hoped.