Sean at six months

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.



Filed under Death, Memories, Philosophy of life

22 responses to “Superstar

  1. Ike Jakson

    It’s a great headline Brendan, with a superb photo choice and a great story. I remember mine.

  2. What a gorgeous baby!
    Brendan, your last sentence, the last one in the brakets.
    Relax! Sod the twisted the souls. You are among friends. There is nothing wrong with feeling like this.

  3. Brendan,

    I read things like this when I’m saddened. It’s purely Islamic. I don’t know if it will have a similar effect on you. Please feel free to delete it if you feel like.:


    And in His

    Name, be He glorified!

    My Dear Brother of the Hereafter, Hafiz Halid Efendi!

    In the, Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.

    And give good news to the patient, Those who when afflicted with calamity say: To God do we belong and to Him is our return.

    My brother, your child’s death saddened me. But, the command is God’s, contentment with the Divine decree and submission to Divine Determining, is a mark of Islam. May Almighty God grant you all patience. And may He make the deceased a supporter and intercessor for you in the Hereafter. I shall explain Five Points which are truly good news and real consolation for you and pious believers like you:


    The meaning of the phrase, immortal youths in the All-Wise Qur’an is this: with this phrase, the verse indicates and gives the good news that the children of believers who die before reaching maturity will remain perpetually as eternal, lovable children in a form worthy of Paradise; that they will be an everlasting means of

    And there is nothing but it glorifies Him with praise. happiness in the embrace of their fathers and mothers who go to Paradise; that they will be the means for ensuring for their parents the sweetest of pleasures like loving and caressing children; that all pleasurable things will be found in Paradise; that the statements of those who say that since Paradise is not the place for reproduction, there will be no loving and carressing of children are not correct; and that gaining millions of years of pure, painfree loving and caressing of eternal children in place of a short time like ten years of loving children mixed with sorrows in this world is a great source of happiness for believers.


    One time, a man was in prison. They sent one of his lovable children to him. The unhappy prisoner suffered both his own sorrows, and since he could not make the child comfortable, he was grieved also at his hardship. Then the compassionate judge sent a man to him with a message which said: “For sure this child is yours, but he is my subject and of my people. I shall take him and look after him in a fine palace.” The man wept in anguish. He said: “I won’t give you my child who is my solace!” His friends said to him: “Your grief is meaningless. If you pity the child, he will go to a spacious and happy palace in place of this dirty, stinking, distressing dungeon. If you are grieved for yourself and are seeking your own benefits, if your child remains here, you will suffer much distress and pain at the child’s difficulties in addition to your single dubious, temporary benefit. If he goes there, there will be a thousand advantages for you, for it will be cause of attracting the king’s mercy and will be like an intercessor for you. The king will want to make you meet with him. For sure, he will not send him to the prison so that you can see him; he will release you from the prison, summon you to the palace, and allow you to meet with the child there. On condition that you have confidence in the king and you obey him….”

    My dear brother, like this comparison, you must think as follows, like other believers when their children die: the child was innocent, and his Creator is All-Compassionate and All-Generous. He has taken him to His most perfect grace and mercy in place of my deficient up-bringing and compassion. He has released him from the grievous, calamitous, difficult prison of this world and sent him to the gardens of Paradise. How happy for the child! If he had stayed in this world, who knows what form he would have taken. Therefore, Ido not pity him, I know him to be fortunate. There remains the benefits for myself, and I don’t pity myself for those, and I do not grieve and be sorrowful. For if he had remained in the world, he would have secured ten years of a child’s temporary love mixed with pains. If he had been righteous and if he had been capable in the matters of the world, perhaps he would have helped me. But with his death, he has become like an intercessor who is the means to ten million years of a child’s love in eternal Paradise and to everlasting happiness. Most certainly, one who loses some dubious, immediate benefit and gains a thousand certain, postponed benefits does not display grief and sorrow, he does not cry out in despair.


    The child who dies was the creature, possession, servant, and together with all his members, the artefact of a Most Compassionate Creator, and belonging to Him was a friend of his parents whom had been given to their supervision temporarily. He made the father and mother servants to the child. In return for those services of their’s, He gave them pleasurable compassion as an immediate wage. Now, if, as the requirement of mercy and wisdom, that All-Compassionate Creator, Who owns nine hundred and ninety-nine shares out of a thousand of the child, takes the child from you and puts an end to your service, to cry out in grief and despair due to that apparent single share in the face of the true owner of the thousand shares in a manner that recalls complaint, does not befit a believer; it befits rather the people of neglect and misguidance.


    If the world had been eternal, and man was to have remained in it eternally, and separation had been eternal, grievous sorrow and despairing woe would have had some meaning. But since this world is a guesthouse, wherever the dead child has gone, you, and we too, shall go there. Moreover, this death is not particular to him, it is a general highway. And, since separation is not for ever, in the future, both in the Intermediate Realm and in the Hereafter he will be met with. One must say, the command is God’s. He gave him and He Look him away. One must say, “All praise be to God for every situation,” and offer thanks in patience.


    Compassion, one of the most subtle, beautiful, agreeable, and sweet manifestations of Divine mercy is a luminous elixir. It is much sharper than passionate love. It swiftly becomes the means of union with Almighty God. Just as metaphorical love and worldly love are transformed into true love with the greatest difficulty, and find Almighty God, so too compassion binds the heart to Almighty God in a shorter, purer fashion – and without difficulty. Both father and mother love their child more than all the world. When their child is taken from them, if they are fortunate and if they are true believers, its turns their faces from the world and finds the True Bestower of Bounties. It says: “Since the world is transitory, it is not worthy of the heart’s attachment.” Wherever the child has gone an attachment forms with that place, and gains for a person great spiritual rank.

    The people of neglect and misguidance are deprived of the happiness and good news of these Five Points. You can see from the following how grievous their situation is: they see their only child in the throes of death and due to their imagining the world to be eternal and as a result of their heedlessness and misguidance, they think death is non-existence and eternal separation. They think of him in the earth of his grave in place of his soft bed, and due to their heedless or misguidance, they do not think of the Paradise of mercy and heaven of bounty of the Most Compassionate of the Compassionate; you can compare just what despairing sorrow and grief they suffer. Whereas belief and Islam say to the believer: his All-Compassionate Creator will take this child of yours who is in the throes of death from this dirty world and take him to Paradise. He will make him both an intercessor for you, and an eternal child. Separation is temporary, do not worry.

    and bear it patiently.

    Said Nursi

    The Enduring One, He is the Enduring Oner

    Say, the command is God’s. To God do we belong and to Him shall we return,

  4. What a chubby cheeked bouncing boy! It is as if he’s bounced out of your ‘negative’ into a colour picture! Unusual shot which gives me quite a strange feeling – and going back to an earlier comment “He knows that you will never let him fall”.

    • Hello, PapaG. Yes, it’s an unusual one. I’ll post various others of me and him. I have some where he is just a few days old.

      We still find it hard to believe that he is gone for good. His girlfriend and five of his friends were here earlier.

  5. Rainer the cabbie

    Hi Brendano

    I need to take break from blogging for a while and concentrate on other things, please don’t take that in any way as avoiding your posts and the expression of your grieve.

    Again my deepest sympathy to you and your family, the road ahead looks hard to cross but with Love you will get there!

    Maybe you, Pauline and your daughter should take a break somewhere to reflect on how to proceed with your lives.

    See you when I come back, till then

    Take care


  6. OK, Rainer … thanks. I look forward to seeing you in a while.

  7. Marya

    Good morning, Brendan … ‘ things were in a state of readiness or culmination’ .. I think your philosophical acceptance of this most devastating blow is admirable and with the love and goodwill that surrounds you it will uphold and sustain you in the long and difficult path ahead.

    Marya x

  8. Good morning, Marya. Thank you. I think our minds work at different levels … we can accept something at one level but it is still very difficult at another, and it changes from day to day depending on how we are sleeping and so forth.

    Having suffered loss yourself, you know how it is. Your support is much appreciated.

  9. Marya

    Yes, our thoughts, emotions and our understanding of our situation fluctuate enormously in grief .. it is exhausting and bewildering too.
    ‘One day at a time’ is a thought quite good to hang on to .. although one hour at a time is more than enough at times.

    Have you taken your lovely dogs out for a walk yet this morning? Walking is always good 🙂

    • That’s true, Marya. No, not yet … Pauline and I will take them out later. At the moment they are having their lengthy morning snooze, after the rigours of a night’s sleep followed by a quick investigation of the garden. 🙂

  10. Shermeen

    What an expressive photograph and a sincere, meaningful blog. Thank you, Brendano.

  11. Jan

    What a gorgeous baby boy he was, Brendano. I’ve no doubt you appreciated every moment with him. He looks so bright and enquiring – and a real armful! 🙂

  12. Cymbeline

    A beautiful baby boy held up by a fine daddy and husband.

    That is all I see, and all that I can understand.

    I cannot understand the rest, however much I try.

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