For a Hauppauge High School alumni who lost her husband after Sept. 11, a decade has changed her perspective on parenting and the world.
Rita Brophy, of Smithtown, lost her husband, New York police officer and Sept. 11 first responder, Thomas, to stage 4 colon cancer on April 21, 2005. He was 36.
“Sept. 11, it changed everything. It changed how our kids are growing up today. As a parent, you feel you have to keep more of an eye on them,” Rita said.
Yet, it’s hard watching her son, Matthew, grow up without a father, she said. It’s leaves a void she’s all too familiar with, having her own father die of cancer when she was 4.
“[My husband] told me to try not to be overprotective of Matthew. I’m very overprotective of Matthew, but I try not to be,” she said.
Together, mother and son keeps Thomas Brophy’s memory alive by participating in the annual 9/11 memorial walk held at Battery Park and frequently visiting his grave.
Rita said she is looking forward to the opening Nesconset 9/11 Responders memorial, the first of its kind in the nation, which will forever remember Thomas and his brothers.