Sean is on my mind so much that there is an awful lot I could (and probably will) write about him and related subjects … life and death, our loss, the change in our lives, the kinds of thoughts that such an event may engender.
On Sean himself … he was not a saint, of course. He had flaws like all of us; he was still a teenager, after all. At times he could be stubborn, lazy, slipshod. Most of the arguments we had with him over the years arose from his helping out around the house and garden less than we would have liked, or needing more prodding than seemed reasonable. But he had matured lately and was making more of an effort, and it was never a very big deal in any case.
There had been no arguments, no friction, in the period leading up to his death. All was sweetness and light. On the Sunday before he died, we took him and his granny to see his sister dance in a production of Jesus Christ Superstar in Kells, Co. Meath. She had been in various shows, but this was the first one Sean ever attended.
As four of us had time to kill, we went to the Headfort Arms hotel for a drink before the show. I had rarely been in a bar with him. We had a pleasant, relaxing time there … he had a pint of Smithwick’s, which I finished. We talked about whether he would play rugby again; he said that it was very likely.
He had become a friend as well as a son … in some respects he was ahead of me and I looked up to him and admired him, though he was so much younger. He was great company. As I have said before, just taking him to the supermarket and buying him a muffin was good enough for me.
Sean enjoyed Jesus Christ Superstar. There was an excellent band of about ten musicians; he approved of the fact that the music was live. The production was of a high standard and his beautiful sister danced very well and gracefully, as always.
If Sean had to leave this world – if his time was up – the circumstances were probably as good as they could have been. His relationships were rewarding and felicitous … he loved and was loved. There was no bad feeling and no particular unfinished business; nothing to cause bitter regret over and above the inevitable desolation.
After doing very well academically in his first year at college (gaining a distinction or a merit in every subject), Sean had devoted much of his energy in the second year to his social life – that looks like a sensible policy now. He packed a lot of living and loving and laughing into nineteen years.
We had upgraded the house and its furnishings recently; it was in good shape for receiving hundreds of visitors (this may sound trivial, but it is not). We had become more integrated in the local community this year and had made new friends, who stood by us and supported us along with the older friends and acquaintances.
In a sense, things were in a state of readiness or culmination. Or that is one way of looking at it.