Switters’ Blog

Erin Halliday Duffy

Posted by switters on September 2, 2007

A person’s death creates concentric circles of mourning and sadness. For those who were very close, the world may well seem to stop, perhaps even to be on the brink of ending. For others, there may be an overwhelming sense of loss that slows everything down and shifts one’s focus and priorities for a while, or perhaps a period of sadness and reflection. But for those in the outer circles – people who didn’t know or barely knew the deceased, the news of the person’s death will at most induce a slight pause and perhaps brief feelings of sympathy and prayers for the family. But inevitably, mundane details and day-to-day demands push themselves to the forefront and life goes on.

Life goes on.

It seems cold and callous that we continue running errands, having fun, arguing over trivial things, making plans, going to work, etc. while at the same time, close by, a group of fellow human beings are in the midst of unspeakable sorrow.

But of course, it has to be that way.

Thousands of people die every day. To grieve them all the way we grieve our own loved ones would turn us into nothing more than perpetual grief machines unable to enjoy life and thus diminishing the value of the very lives we mourn.

And yet…

There are some whose passing touches everyone, inducing a sense of loss as strong as we would have if we actually knew the person. We honor such individuals once they’re gone for who they were in life: for the impact they had, for the lives they touched, for the difference they made.

eh2002.jpgOn August 31, 2007, Erin Halliday Duffy, a teacher at Lincoln Avenue School in Sayville, passed away. She is mourned by her family, her friends, her co-workers, her students and their families, and by everyone fortunate enough to have known her. For myself, I hadn’t seen her in years but I am devastated by the news of her death. I knew her for a relatively short while, but it was enough to get a real sense of who she was. In fact, it took very little time to realize that Erin was truly a rare individual. She was genuine, kind, caring, and selfless. She had an indescribably warm smile that she blessed other people with whether she was feeling happy, stressed, tired, or whatever. She was a dedicated teacher who TRULY devoted herself to the growth, learning, and development of her students.

Being that I wasn’t close to her, it may not be my place to memorialize her. But though it has been years since I saw her, I doubt seriously that her inner essence had changed much, and I think that my distance makes me uniquely qualified to make the point I’m trying to get across.

Certainly anyone with a heart cannot help but be moved by the circumstances of her death – her youth, her promise for the future, the family and the students she leaves behind. But her life deserves more than just brief recognition and passing feelings of sympathy. Erin’s life deserves to be honored and remembered not just by those in the closest circles, but by everyone with a soul. We should all reflect upon not just their loss, but on what we have all lost. There are far too few truly decent people in this world and today there is one less

We can honor her memory by taking a moment today to reflect on what it means to be a good person. Do something nice for somebody or maybe refrain from arguing or fighting with someone, even if they deserve it. Think about it… if we lose one wonderful person but a whole bunch of other people decide to become just a tiny bit nicer, then Erin Duffy is not completely gone.

For anyone who wishes to do something more concrete, please donate to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation in her memory.

I welcome and appreciate any comments below.


13 Responses to “Erin Halliday Duffy”

  1. dakeeper said

    Very good remarks. As I mentioned on the other forum, we had two sons enter the system through her kindergarten class. Ms. Halliday was the first teacher for my wife and I when our oldest son reached school age. I was very pleased with her efforts and she left a positive impact on us. She then had the challenge of having our middle son when he began school. We had many meetings between the two years and my wife was a class mom during one of them. Ms. Halliday was very kind and sympathetic to us during a very difficult time when our 3rd son was born early and we will never forget that. My one son had the funny distinction of having his desk placed next to hers for reasons between us but she always made it a point to make it fun for him. I’m glad both of my sons had her and they took the news with sadness.

    I saw her as recently as July during SCOPE, and she was always smiling and she seemed in good spirits.

  2. hibbityjibbity said

    Oh my god, I worked with Erin and her older brother when I was in High school, and college, my heart goes out to the family, as she was a great person. This truly is a great loss and saddens me.

  3. sushi said

    Switters, your words are so thoughtful, and touching. Thanks for taking a moment to share them with us.

  4. I want to thank you all for your kind words. erin has been a beautiful wife, woman, daughter and sibling and will be remembered by many. your words bring me and her family peace during these sad times. thank you to all
    kevin duffy

  5. Catherine Kier said

    We have been blessed to take care of Erin while she was here with us. She has been a very beautiful and wonderful person. We have been doubly blessed to have her husband and her family with us thru all the struggles. They are as wonderful as she was. We will miss her dearly. Our prayers to Erin and to all of our patients who passed. Peace, tranquility and beautiful memories to her husband and family.

  6. Nicole said

    So beautifully written…you truly captured the emotions that everyone has been feeling. I am blessed to have had Erin as a colleague and a friend – she touched so many people and will continue to do so for eternity. Erin was a very special and unique woman and we are all hurting from this loss. I will remember her laughter and her smile and all the great memories we shared. My thoughts and prayers are with Erin’s husband and family. Love you all.

  7. The Stockerts said

    Your words were beautifully written. I have no words to express to the family that could make them feel any better. She was a beautiful person inside and out! We will miss her!

  8. mike hooker said

    erin was a doll. i know her family well, they are all terrific people and erin was a
    testimony to them, and them to her. such a great group,now shattered. kevin fit right in there, like a glove. i met him through erin, and really like him. he became a member of my ice hockey team, and we had a lot of fun. i never had a moment with erin where there weren’t tons of laughs. i didnt know for a long time of her illness, and it just made me respect her even more. the way she was, with the adversity she had, was amazing. the same moment i learned of her illness, my respect for kevin went thru the roof. believe me, not every guy would make a commitment like he did. this could only be sadder if it were my own daughter. there isnt anything in this life that can make this right, only in the next one. please, God bless them in their time of need.

  9. MOM2GIRLS said

    Although I did not know Erin personally, I feel sad about her passing. CF is an awful disease to deal with and thankfully, Erin lived to engrave her handprint on the hearts of so many in our community. She will live forever in our hearts.

  10. The Russo Family said

    I feel that your reply said it well for all of us – she touched so many in her short time here and will forever be with each of us. My son was fortunate to have her for both kindergarten and 3rd grade and is forever touched by her warm and generous spirit. We all could learn about genuine human kindness from Erin, Kevin and her whole family. She will be missed.

  11. The Wallace Family said

    Words cannot describe the sadness our family has experienced since Erin’s passing. Our daughter was blessed to have Erin as her Kindergarten teacher. Erin was a wonderful, nurturing teacher to both her students and their parents alike, always smiling and laughing despite the challenges of her illness. We are all the more richer for having known her as she truly was a beautiful person, through and through. Although we did not know of her illness until recently, our admiration, love and adoration is only greater for her, knowing the challenges she faced while managing to be such a positive energy to all those around her. Erin’s kind heart and warm spirit touched the lives of many in the short time she was with us. We thank her family for sharing their shining light with us, for she has touched our hearts in so many, many ways and we will never, ever forget her. She was truly an angel on earth. May God keep her in his hands and may she rest in eternal peace.

  12. switters said

    For additional tributes that other friends and family have left on the Legacy.com (i.e. Newsday) site, see the next post.

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