Tag Archives: death

Five years

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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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Father and Son

Some years ago we bought Cat Stevens’ Tea for the Tillerman CD, mainly for the very brief title track, which was featured at the end of each episode of Extras and which we all (all four of us, that is) really liked. Another track on the album, which of course I already knew well, was ‘Father and Son’.

The CD has been playing in the car quite a lot recently, and I have been paying more attention than of old to the words in ‘Father and Son’, which alternate between the father’s and son’s points of view.

The father is counselling calmness and conservatism (‘It’s not time to make a change’). The son is complaining about deficiencies in his upbringing. Among the son’s lines are:

How can I try to explain?

When I do he turns away again
It’s always been the same, same old story
From the moment I could talk
I was ordered to listen

All the times that I’ve cried

Keeping all the things I knew inside … Continue reading

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Filed under Ireland, Memories, Music, Philosophy of life

Paul Gallagher RIP

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Yesterday was a sad day for Pauline and me, as we travelled to Strabane for the funeral of her cousin, Paul Gallagher, who died in New Zealand on 2 November – he was cremated there and his ashes were sent home for burial.

I first met Paul when he called to the small flat in Harrington Street, Dublin that Pauline and I shared in 1982/83. Paul, ever sociable, had a couple of his Strabane friends with him, and we gave them toasted sandwiches. He later told Pauline that one of the things he liked about calling on us was that we always fed him well, whereas elsewhere he might get only a tea and a biscuit! Continue reading

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Six Feet Under

Six-Feet-Under

Pauline and I have watched all five seasons (63 episodes) of Six Feet Under in the past few months, having seen the series first when it came out in 2001–2005. Susanna watched many of the episodes with us; I think Sean would have loved it (he was too young to watch when it was first aired).

To me, it’s the best TV show I have ever seen (Pauline feels the same way). Admittedly the various blockbuster series of the past few years passed us by, but I very much doubt that any of them would surpass Six Feet Under in my mind. The writing and acting are superb; the complexity and humanity of the characters come across believably and often beautifully, and the fact that death is ever present only accentuates the value and vividness of life, in all its imperfection. Music (such as the highly evocative main theme), dreams and fantasy offset or accentuate the grittiness. Continue reading

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One More (a poem)

Time for one more,
Eyes are bright;
Wonder what’s
In store tonight.

Told me often
That she might
Sail the coffin
To the light. Continue reading

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Cartoon (a poem)

Intent on being intense, she’s a ferally attractive
Leopardess from nights of yore;
Tail a-swaying, captive geese a-laying,
Crystal bowls refractive of my lust for lore.
We have goldfish to fry, mullet to misidentify
As Liffey salmon, strings to strum and cords to sever
(Those things can wait for now … and possibly for ever.) Continue reading

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