Five years


Sean, it is five years today since you died. These have been the saddest and strangest years of my life.

There were rivers of tears in the early days—the tears are less frequent now. Back then every minute of every day was a terrible weight.

Your mum and I came through the extreme desolation—and the snow and ice—and into a phase where loss was an ever-present ache, but less raw.

I wrote about you: poems, songs, your favourite music, extracts from old diaries, your sporting interests, your extraordinary personality.  After three years I seemed to have written all that was worth writing. Some things are unsayable, but I still speak to you every day.

We are strong and resilient. You would be proud of us for that. We have tried to live the right way. You inspire us with vivid memories of how you were. In April 2010 you told us that you had learned a lot about yourself in the previous six months, and we knew it was true. We have learned a lot about ourselves in the past five years.

We have changed. The channel of our humanity deepens and widens as life continues to flow through it. Though we love this world, we are not afraid of dying.

You would be hugely proud of your little sister. Susanna has been incredibly brave and determined. She has set high goals and achieved them all. It has not been easy, but her good humour and sense of fun are as contagious and lovable as ever. She has been out in the world and found lovely people there. She is a shining star, just like you.

We enjoy talking about you with your friends when we have an opportunity, either in real life or online: the light you gave off is still being reflected, although the source has gone; we like to glimpse it where we can. Many things we didn’t know about you till after you died; many photos we hadn’t seen. You are still in many minds.

Between ourselves, we talk about you often. We think about you all the time. Your life and memory are not stored in some compartment; they are in the air we breathe.

You helped us find out things we didn’t know. You and Susanna showed the world to us. Being with you was always an adventure. We were partners in discovery.

This year we went abroad and met a lot of new people; we got to know people in Ireland through new connections. You would be delighted about that: you always encouraged us to socialize and make friends; something you did as naturally as breathing, it seemed. You would have been proud of me for being invited to the conference in Canada.

No year is as good, though, as when we had both our children. No year ever will be.

As I wrote the first Christmas without you—you are a hero to me, and I will love you always. Thanks again for the 7021 days.



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13 responses to “Five years

  1. mary darmody

    This piece moves me to tears Brendan, so beautifully written and shot through with your grief which you have channelled in such a positive way. Well done!

  2. This post is as tender as many of the songs you wrote in Sean’s memory. It is full of love Brendan. I like what you you wrote about the ‘light’ being still reflected. As distant as I am in London and never having known Sean, I warm to him so easily from all your remembrances: the footage of him nearly stepping on a hen, racing down corridors with a mate and of course choosing a broken chair or box and making it seem the most comfortable chair in the room!
    My son, now 8 had been reading a book about space and the big bang, all written simply enough for even me to understand. But David (Kojo) said to me “but Daddy, what came before space?”
    The source of the light may be gone from human eyes, but the source may exist elsewhere, it may be part of a greather thing. By the way, David is reading the book you have written!

    • Thanks, papaguinea. You were very supportive from the start. I especially remember your ‘Snow at Rooskey’ poem. Your feedback on my songs, and help with arrangements, was very much appreciated too.

      I hope David is enjoying the book. 🙂

  3. Five years. Wow. I remember the shock of the news. I think all of us who followed you then and follow you still feel an ache for Sean’s loss, even though we had never methim. You have let us know him here.
    A good friend of mine has died. I am so glad to have some of the poems she wrote. In her words she still lives. Small comfort perhaps, but comfort nonetheless.

  4. helpmaboab

    I still have not found the source of the quote:

    “What know you of grief, who have not buried a child?”

  5. chris

    I love reading what you write Brendan. It brings such happy memories of Sean back to me. Although i wasnt as close to him as many of his friends, the 2 years we really knew eachother we spoke daily, he had such an impact on the path i have taken in life, As he and I had discuessed the possibilities on several occasions.
    Forever young.

  6. Duckham

    Oh Brendan, I write this unashamedly in tears at the beauty of it and the tragedy that inspired you to express your grief so well.


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