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Kevin Noonan | Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Two weeks ago, we mourned the passing of Xavier Murphy. He was a man of Notre Dame, and, more closely to my own heart, a man of Zahm.

There are many ways to objectively label Xavier. He was a student, a political science major, a head manager and then intern for the football team, a friend and a son.

But he was so much more than that. I did not know Xavier well; we crossed paths a handful of times at most, and he would not have known my name or face.

But at the same time, I feel like I know him intimately. I feel like we all know him, because we are him in so many ways. Xavier was you and he was me.

He was a boy with hopes, dreams, goals, joys, disappointments, successes and struggles. He worried about tests, girls, jobs and laundry.

He was a Notre Dame student who loved his University and loved his dorm. He was buried in a Notre Dame polo with a Zahm shirt underneath.

He was a man of compassion and courage, facing his short battle with cancer with the quiet strength and big smile with which he approached the rest of his life.

When we learned in Zahm of Xavier’s death, we marked our remembrance with a Mass and a silent trip to the Grotto.

I’m not an overly sentimental person, or at least I try to act like it, but walking into the Grotto with the Zahm community that night, each one of us placing a candle and saying a silent prayer in remembrance of our brother, was one of the most emotionally overwhelming experiences of my life so far.

I was deeply saddened by the loss of such a young and promising life, and the feeling was only magnified by the importance of unity instilled in me since I arrived in Zahm.

I said before, I did not know him well, and neither did my friends. But the pull of the current of brotherhood running through us was so strong that we truly felt deep in our hearts that we had lost a brother — a brother in Zahm, a brother in Notre Dame and a brother in Christ.

As I stood with my fellow Zahmbies, though, our arms raised in silent X’s as tribute to our fallen brother, I was overcome with a sense of gratitude and community. The outpouring of love for a man who many of us, especially underclassmen, barely knew and shared with only the collective bond of Zahm and Notre Dame was simply powerful.

Death is never easy to handle or comprehend, especially when it happens so suddenly and to someone so young. But I found solace in the dynamic that our Notre Dame community possesses.

We have a unique ability to join together in love and unity to show our mourning for a young man who so loved and so believed in this.

On Saturday, Zahm is asking that the student body join them in raising their arms in their traditional X during the game. Normally a sign of defiance, it bears a new meaning on Saturday.

Join us in raising the X as a full university to show our support for Xavier Murphy and all others who struggle and have struggled against cancer and illness, and we can show the world how much each individual member of our community means to us.

Contact Kevin Noonan at [email protected]

The views expressed in the Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.