Sean was streetwise, adventurous, hyper-sociable, good-natured, fun-loving. He befriended waifs and strays. He knew how to take care of himself, to avoid trouble, to defuse fights. He was a calming influence on his more hot-headed friends.
Notwithstanding his somewhat hedonistic, partying lifestyle, there was a certain air of innocence about him at times. In some respects, the little boy was still there. He was thrilled with himself when he handled the pressure of bar-work at the Fleadh so well, for example.
His friends have spoken about how there was no badness in him … he never had a bad word for anyone; he would always forgive and forget, never hold a grudge. He was the life and soul of every party.
One of my regrets is that we do not have a photo of him taken on his last day, or close to it. He was better looking than ever, having turned from a handsome youth into a handsome man. He had a stubbly beard; there was a glow about him. He had those bright eyes, that lovely smile. Sean was always so beautiful … it’s a word that many, many people have applied to him.
He was strong and physical … in sport, in horseplay with his friends or with me. He was not bookish, as I had been as a boy. Throughout his life Sean liked to run; to ride his bike or a trolley; to slide down the hill across the road on a toboggan in snow time, or down the shiny sheep-grazed grass of the Lough Crew Hills on a sheet of plastic or simply by running and flinging himself to the ground; to race madly along a school corridor with a friend on his shoulders. He was so full of life that he was overflowing.
My body remembers his physicality, the resistance of his muscle and bone as we pushed each other playfully round the kitchen or collided while playing soccer. After all that, to see his dead body, with no will, defiance or resistance remaining, was strange.
Where has he gone? Has he gone anywhere? If so, he has not taken his body … his spirit’s vehicle for acting in this world of ours that we occupy for just a while. It was put in a box and buried.
Shall we meet again? I hope so, Sean. I always believed that things happened for a reason … there is no reason for me to stop believing now.