Some further thoughts on Sean

I must scan some photos and post a slideshow. In the meantime, Pauline and I have of course been thinking about Sean a lot. We are devastated.

It strikes me that his entire life, from conception to death, lasted 20 years – perhaps exactly.

Sean was born in the Coombe Hospital in Dublin at 18 minutes to midnight on Sunday, 28 July 1991. He died on a Sunday too.

When he was born, there was a true knot in his umbilical cord (which, fortunately, had not pulled tight). From some research this morning, it seems that such knots occur in 1% of pregnancies, and lead to a four-fold increase in likelihood of foetal death. Sean, typically, had been jumping about recklessly in the womb. It didn’t seem to have done him any harm.

When Sean and his class finished school in 2008, a sort of graduation ceremony was held which involved the students holding a lantern with a candle inside. On a label attached to the lantern, each student had written a message to his or her parents.

We still have the lantern, of course. On the label, Sean wrote: Thank you Mum and Dad for supporting me for the first 16 years of my life and pushing me always to reach my full potential, setting me up for college and the rest of my life. I hope you will continue to have such an influence on me.

Sean’s photo appears in the school yearbook. Under ‘Happiest Memory’ he wrote Stevo dressing up as a woman on dress-up day! ‘Most Embarrassing Memory’ was Losing 14-3 to the teachers in after school soccer!

Under ‘Describe Yourself’, Sean wrote Extremely attractive male.



Filed under Anecdotes, Memories

33 responses to “Some further thoughts on Sean

  1. Ike Jakson


    You have some precious memories; it took me down my own memory lane. Enjoy them and go with God always.

  2. One does not know what to say Brendan. Your son is obviously a very special young man, deserving high praise. Words come to my mouth, but the thought of praising him would increase your sorrow, makes me stop.

    When my friends have a real trouble, I just sit by them and listen. I believe when one is sad s/he doesn’t want to listen much.

    I don’t know how sorrow is shared. I wish I could offer my shoulder next to yours to lift the heavy burden you carry.

    We will meet again, Brendan. You just gave him back to his real owner who has more compassion than you. It’s like sending him to a boarding school.

    Forgive me, Brendan, as these words are coming from my heart without any cencoring.

    In this far part of the world, one heart is next to yours, brother.

  3. Thank you very much, Levent. I know that you always mean what you say, and I appreciate it.

  4. papaguinea

    Brendano – picking up on a thread from Levent, I remember a Methodist minister addressing a prison congregation and talking about ‘Communion’ saying the length of the communion table was very deceiving for in fact its length was the circumference of the globe. The height of the table was equally deceiving for in truth the table top reached to God himself. In that context all humans kneeled together shoulder to shoulder and were in touching distance of their maker.

    I am quite sure all your readers are charmed to hear these stories of Sean. Levent says he doesn’t know how sorrow is shared but I’m sure its the same way that love is shared. You are sharing your sorrow with your readers; it is in being here to listen that we share. Some of us may reply, many bear that sorrow in silence, not finding words to express deep feelings. There are no words to fill the void. Compassion and love can indeed be shared and through your words we can touch upon the nature of Sean and the love held by the family. God bless Brendano. The lantern story is lovely.

  5. Thank you, PapaG. Yes, there is a great deal of communion in our local community and further afield. A lot of people have been affected in some way by this loss. We will try to sustain the positive elements, in terms of how we relate to people. And it does put economic gloom and doom in perspective. Love and compassion matter more.

    This is one of the many songs that will always remind me of Sean. After he died his girlfriend found a letter to her on his laptop. Very intense stuff … we hung it on the wall with many photos during his wake. The last line was partly from this song … ‘A woman she loves me with all of her heart and I love her too’.

  6. papaguinea

    Love the song; there is such an easy air to it.

  7. Yes … it’s that classic G Em C G progression.

    Everything must change … nothing remains the same. We used to sing along to it in the car.

  8. Shermeen

    Thank you for more happy memories of your dear son, Brendano.

  9. Rainer the cabbie

    And to come back to the post, indeed Sean was a precious soul.
    But what gave him the opportunity to be like that is yours and Pauline’s influence.
    Both of you should give yourself a big hug and pat on the back.

  10. Rainer the cabbie

    “Give each other a hug”

  11. Thanks, Rainer. I am aware of the danger that in posting a lot of stuff on my recently deceased son I could become maudlin and obsessive. I don’t intend to let that happen … I will merely write about him as a tribute to him and a record of his life, which I believe he deserves. If anyone doesn’t like it they do not have to look at it.

    • For the moment I’m doing some work … I’ll probably post something later. Scanning photos is a bit of a chore as they have to be scanned to a different computer (for reasons too boring to mention) and copied to this one.

    • Rainer the cabbie

      Post whatever you like mate. All of us understand what you are going through. I bet a lot of people are reading it, and are too stunned to comment.
      Get it out your system but don’t you, and Pauline, ever forget :
      There are better days ahead !

  12. Rainer the cabbie

    …and I don’t know if Sean liked the “Klaxons”
    But for its worth, I bought the CD, that’s me, a classical, jazz and folk fan, and I am rocking out on it in his and his generations honor !

    • If he listened to the Klaxons I’m not aware of it.

      There was always a lot of music playing in our house and car. He liked all kinds in his early days … I remember that he and his sister referred to Bob Marley’s ‘Buffalo Soldier’ as ‘The Oi-Oi Song’. They liked the Beatles too.

      Later, at different times, he listened a lot to Eminem, heavy metal bands such as Metallica and System of a Down, Nirvana, Radiohead, Jimi Hendrix, Queen, The Kings of Leon, Against Me!, Elliot Smith, Amy Winehouse, Johnny Cash, Bob Marley, Bob Dylan, Planxty and the Dubliners.

  13. Marya

    Hello Brendan … And a beautiful, love-filled tribute it is, too.

    I love Sean’s engaging and wittily candid self-assessment 🙂

  14. This is one that I associate strongly with him. He would be sitting at the other computer putting on various tracks. I heard a lot of music I grew to love in that way. He was always pleased when I liked something he liked.

  15. Shermeen

    When tragedy like yours befalls a family, some well-wishers tend to caution against too much ‘revisiting’ what once was but is not anymore. Please be assured there is nothing more natural than reliving the memories and recalling specifically precious moments and shining traits, again and again and again.

    Your tributes to your son are dignified and unaffected and your self-control exemplary.

  16. Thanks, Shermeen. I’ll keep on doing it until I run out of themes, I suppose. I’ll certainly report on how our lives are going, in case anyone is interested and for my own sake too.

  17. “Extremely attractive male.” What a character. 🙂 A lot of fun and so loved. His personality shines through everything you tell us, Brendano. He must have spread an awful lot of happiness in those 20 years.

    • Thank you, Jan. Yes, he did spread a lot of happiness. Many adults tell us of time they spent with Sean for one reason or another … one woman who helped out with an exhibition of children’s art that my wife organized years ago, for example. Sean chatted to her all day and she found it extremely uplifting, she said. He was a very nice boy and young man. He had a gift for relating to people. The whole community here is still very shocked.

  18. Oh please do continue with these snapshots of Sean and how you remember him, Brendan.

    I am reading them, and seeing him through your eyes. A great deal of love and respect and although I have never met him, I feel you are painting a wonderful picture of a very special person.

    I spent some time looking at his photos. Very talented young man.

    I do not always comment, but I’m reading, and please continue to share these moments.

    Thank you, and it is to your credit that you feel you can share the good moments and the joy, as well as the pain.

    • Thanks, Araminta. I’m glad you’re enjoying the posts. I was terribly, terribly proud of him. Memories keep coming. Of collecting him at 2 a.m. when he was a barman during the recent Fleadh. After an exhausting shift he and his colleagues were sitting around having a drink … Sean had just started a pint of cider, and was laughing and joking … such a good-looking, charismatic young man. Shaking hands with everyone before leaving, and telling me about his day on the half-hour drive home.

      Good memories, but they do bring some tears.

  19. I’ve been away this week, so am back and now catching up on your posts. Really enjoying reading about Sean. These make me smile.
    Then make me cry. But don’t stop!

  20. Ike Jakson


    I saw this for the first time this past Friday and noticed the date only after I had saved the link. It’s from some kind and kindred soul and I thought of you.

    It contains my message for you but I wouldn’t know how to write it.

  21. Cheech

    Hello Brendano, I was also gone for most of last week and have not had much time to keep up with your blogsite.

    I don’t have the way with words than many here are blessed with, but please do believe me when I say, I admire you so much for the way you are dealing with this sad time in your life.

    Just being a bystander has made me rethink a lot of things about my own life and the way I live it.

  22. That’s extraordinarily kind of you, Cheech … thanks.

  23. Shermeen

    Good to read this again, Brendan. Never ceases to amaze me how resilient the human spirit is!

  24. Many thanks, Shermeen. As George Orwell wrote, ‘No bomb that ever burst shatters the crystal spirit’.

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