If I could write him back, I would.

Long after Eric was gone, I still felt his presence so strongly, that it seemed he could walk into the room at any moment. He’d give his perfunctory wave, and simply say, “Hey.” As my own life developed, I’ve lost that sensation. Marriage and babies have a way of filling your heart and mind until old memories are crowded out. By writing about him, though, I’ve begun to get that sensation back. It gives me hope, but it’s an empty hope. I want so strongly to see him again, that I almost convince myself that somehow, some way, he will return.

I know this is absurd, but a heart has funny ways of playing tricks on your mind. In doing we web search of him today, I found this. His obituary. Beautifully written, it does a sufficient job of summing up his short 29 years on this planet. Yes, he’s really gone. And no, he’s not coming back.

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Eric Anthony Patterson

Eric Anthony Patterson was born September 5, 1970 at Panorama City, California, the son of Horace Eugene Patterson and Janet Ellen Andra Patterson, and died October 29, 1999 at Wichita, Kansas at the age of 29 years.

He moved with his family to Conway Springs in 1974 from California. He attended St. Joseph Catholic School and graduated from Conway Springs High School with the class of 1989. At CSHS, Eric was a four-year Scholar Bowl member, was in a school play, and participated in basketball, cross country, and track.Eric attended Kansas State University, where he was active in the pro-life movement, helping organize campus activities and writing articles in the school paper, defending the rights of the unborn. He designed a bumper sticker used by Right to Life—Life: The Choice of the Next Generation. At the college campus parish, St. Isidore in Manhattan, he was a member of a Bible study group, taught CCD, and made weekly visits to a local nursing home where he read to a retired K-State English professor. He corresponded frequently with a young man serving a prison term in Texas. He studied Spanish in Monterrey, Mexico, during the fall semester his sophomore year. He then worked for ATT in Goddard for several months before returning to K-State for his junior year. Following his graduation in 1993, Eric attended a summer session with the Legionnaires of Christ in Connecticut. Following his return, he was a substitute teacher in Conway Springs and Clearwater and also taught CCD. In January of 1994 he began teaching ESL (English as a Second Language) classes at Maur Hill Preparatory School in Atchison. For the next two years, he attended Benedictine College to earn a secondary teaching certificate and also taught Spanish and religion classes at Maur Hill.

For the last three years, Eric was a sales counselor in the computer department at the east Wichita Circuit City store. In July 1999 he traveled with family members to England and Scotland for three weeks. During the trip he visited the Isle of Skye, the birthplace of his paternal great-grandmother.

Eric was a member of St. Joseph Parish and of the Knights of Columbus. He is survived by his parents Horace and Janet Patterson; one brother, Luke Patterson; two sisters: Becky Leddy and Catherine Patterson; his brother-in-law, Curtis Leddy; his four nephews: Andrew, Jason, Michael, and Matthew Leddy; and his grandmother, Catherine Andra, all of Conway Springs, and a number of other relatives and many friends. Eric’s family and friends celebrate his caring, kind, and gentle ways.

“Eric, you have made our lives much richer during your brief stay and you will never be forgotten.”

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7 thoughts on “If I could write him back, I would.

  1. What a fine young man your brother was. I wish I would have had the honor of knowing him. I think Andrew resembles him a lot. Your writings touch my soul Catherine! What a fine sister you are to write so lovingly and honestly of him.

  2. After reading the first post on your brother, I find it really interesting that your brother was still so involved with the Church. I am hopeful that it was because he still had his faith and still believed in the goodness of people despite having had such a horrible experience with one representative of that faith. I hope.

    • Sadly, his involvement may have stemmed from a deep guilt he had. He loved the church, and I think he felt the abuse was his fault (as most victims do). We didn’t learn of his abuse until shortly before his death.

  3. It’s odd how you can live in a parallel world with someone, then suddenly an intersection of sorts takes place. Eric and I were the same age. We both graduated high school in ’89 and went to K-State. We both wrote for the college newspaper, and yet somehow I don’t think we crossed paths. I wish I had kept up the practice of my faith in college as he did. Maybe then I would have had the privilege of knowing him too.

    My husband’s brother has suffered from mental illness for more than a decade. He lost his wife and son because of it, and my husband spent a lot of time over those 10 years worrying that he would get a call that his brother was dead. I’m pleased to be able to say that, as of today, he’s a success story. But he’ll never be the same brother my husband once knew. People absolutely do not understand the anguish of mental illness, especially in people who shine so brightly in so many other ways.

    These little coincidences make me feel more of a kinship with you, Cat, but I can’t go so far as to say I know what it’s like. Only that you help us all to understand. Thanks for turning your personal pain into awareness for all.

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