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Patrick Byers (Cante Luta): Blog

In Memory of Patrick

Posted on September 26, 2010 with 9 comments


I received this touching letter from Patrick last week. Tears filled my eyes as I read it last night after Jennifer called me to inform me of Patrick's impending death. The letter reveals how Patrick, despite his pain and discomfort, was more concerned about me than himself. Patrick was the first person that I befriended during my first year at NCSA (UNCSA). I was a high school senior and felt like a fish-out-of-water. Patrick was a college sophomore and made me feel at home and welcomed.

He was first our pianist in composition class because neither Dan Foley, Dr. Mennini, nor myself possessed the ability to perform our own compositions on piano because of their complexity. Patrick could. After a few months he began bringing to class his own delightful compositions for critique. In time, he changed his major from piano to composition and excelled during the two years that we were classmates. Patrick was also my wife's assigned accompanist for a year. As his publisher, I will continue to expose the world to his genius. It is a sad but true statement that "genius is a posthumous decoration."

Hi Patrick,

 I apologize for not getting back to you sooner. I had surgery on August 24th, a little over three weeks ago. I was in the hospital for a week, absolutely miserable with a high fever and bleeding issues. Now the looong road to recovery begins. My spine was fused and I have 2 inch bolts holding it together for the process to complete, in about a year. I will probably be out of work for the next 3 or four months.

This should give me time to work on your album if I have no further setbacks. Marcia has been great! She has performed simply horrible tasks such as emptying my urine, dressing me, and keeping my spirits up. As evidence of her abiding love, she never left my side in the hospital, slept and ate there for a week. My daughters gave her breaks to go home during the day for sleep and a bath.

However, Marcia insisted that she stay at night when I couldn't sleep, rubbing and kissing my head, etc. She is a precious gem and by far the best thing that I received from my NCSA experience. In fact, as I have often confessed to you, along with my love for composing, my darling Marcia was my primary reason for accepting Dr. Mennini’s invitation to attend NCSA as a composition major. I have so loved her since I met her at fifteen. 

I am finally getting a measure of sleep at night and my wits are returning since they took me off of morphine two days ago. As I regain my strength during the next few weeks I will be learning to walk again. I am already using a walker. I am also growing a beard since I can't quite shave myself which makes me look even older. Marcy loves playing in it. If it was up to her I would never shave again. My granddaughter told me that it feels like an animal.

 Well the Oxycoodone is taking effect so I better end this before I stop making any sense. Take care my friend and write back soon and give me an update on your health. I have the stereo blasting Tchaikovsky's 4th- 6th symphonies and Marcy and the kids are telling me to turn it down. I love to listen to them at full volume. It drowns out the pain.      

Affectionately dear friend,


Patrick’s last letter:

Hello Larry,

I knew you were dealing with the travails of an operation. I did not know how serious and long recovery lasting. I hurt for you physically reading what you are going through. I am inspired by Marcia and your daughters. As I have said in our past communiqués your light on the lamp stand shines true and richly blessed.

As a man, I deserve what their hearts leave me. There is only the evidence of a composer of undying love in your life, one who is dear and adored. Recently I recall that you said you had a bit of envy related to my journeys in the world. I thought, how? Look at what surrounds you and what does not surround me! I am in my New York City apartment shared with poet, song writer, Nik Munson, and I am alone looking at the beginning of fall in the woods across the street. Nik is a good friend and listens. He has given me a lovely room where I bought my roll top desk. He sees my agony…. 

In the midst of this education horror, I was offered a teaching job as a music teacher at the school I subbed last year. Today the principal liking what he has heard coming from students thus far asked me how I was feeling with chemo. My belly is round from excess water and my feet are swollen, but I thanked him for hiring me. He told me to take good care because he wanted to keep me there for a long time.

Now, good and lifelong friend, who do I have to come home and share this with? My sister, Julia, called me this week and made me promise that when I was "tired" she would come get me and look after me in those closing days. My siblings have been a source of love. I seem to have become a source of strife to my progeny! Sadly, deservedly so.

Oh, the anguish, good friend. It soothed me hearing about Marcia and your daughters. Thank them for me for the inspiration. I have the bag of musical trinkets to carry around, but you, Larry, a universe of love in life and art with a full panorama of stars that all can see through those who love you, which includes me, the "big ego". This light emanates from your life and your music.

 Rest well. You are loved.


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