Pauline and Susanna found a cassette tape in Pauline’s mum’s house yesterday. Sean and Susanna had recorded it on 31 January 2000, when Sean was eight and Susanna was six, to send to their granny and grandad – Peter, their grandad, was seriously ill at the time. As Sean explains at the start, they made it in case granny and grandad didn’t remember their voices – they hadn’t seen them in a while.
On the tape, the two children recite poems, sing songs, and relate their news. Sadly, Peter would die just 10 days later.
When we manage to convert the tape to a usable format, I will post the file here.
Filed under Death, Ireland
29 July 1991 – Sean aged less than 24 hours
My intention was to post diary entries from 2004 (when I stopped keeping a diary) back as far as the day Sean was born, to try to give an insight into his life as a baby and a boy, and into the lives of the rest of his family too. I have now reached the beginning.
28/7/91 – I have already described this day here
29/7/91 – I got up pretty early, not having slept well. I spent a good part of the morning with Pauline and the baby, having first phoned work (cheers in the background) [and others] … the baby was fine – sleeping a lot – and Pauline was fine too … I cycled to the Coombe and back. Peter and Nuala arrived around 1.30, and after a cup of tea we went to the Coombe … Sean (we still hadn’t finally decided on a name) was looking great, and of course P & N loved him … [later] Christine, Aileen, Dave and Dervla arrived … the five of us went to the hospital (Christine was driving), where Sean again made a big impression. Later, the uncle and aunts went with the father to Arbour House, where everyone had a few drinks.
30/7/91 – The others were visiting Pauline in the afternoon session. I cooked spaghetti bolognaise for dinner, and we had a bottle of red wine, then Christine drove us all to the hospital. Mary and Aisling arrived too, Sean was universally eulogized; the uncle and aunts and I went home and then to Uncle Tom’s Cabin. We had all decided on ‘Seán Peter O’Brien’. [note: I always used the fada (accent) in Sean’s name in my diaries, and it appears on his birth certificate, but he didn’t bother with it himself, and I have followed his example on this blog.] Continue reading
1/3/95 – I did a Chinese stir fry, helped by Sean.
4/3/95 – Sean went to Elaine’s birthday party … At one point Sean and Louise came running up to the front door blowing bubbles, and Sean, on the doorstep, somehow spilled some of the mixture into his eyes. There was much screaming. I tried to wash it out of his eyes and calm him down, then changed his shirt. When I was going to bring him back to the party, I slipped on the doorstep and fell, with Susanna in my arms. She bumped her head, but only slightly.
5/3/95 – Sean went to Brad’s birthday party. Continue reading
Filed under Death, Ireland
1/9/95 – Sean’s first day at school. He and I got up at 7.55 – I’d been sleeping in Susanna’s bed. He was to start school at 9.45. Pauline got him organized, and there was no problem – some kids had to be dragged into the class kicking and screaming, but not Sean. He asked to sit beside Billy, it seems … [later] He got on very well, and came home full of glad tidings about his first day at school and refusing to change out his uniform for quite some time. Pauline and I were pleased that he’d taken to it so well.
4/9/95 – Sean was keen as mustard to get to school in the morning, afraid he’d overslept. (He hadn’t.) … [later] Pauline and Sean went to Blackrock and got a DART into town to buy a second pair of trousers and a second jumper for Sean’s school uniform.
7/9/95 – Sean is still loving school … he has a friend called Phillip, and is learning songs, prayers and Irish words. Continue reading
Friends and family turned out in force to celebrate what would have been Sean’s 21st birthday. A great night, and €560 raised for CRY. Many thanks to all concerned.
3/3/97 – I took Sean and Susanna to the little park at the end of the road, and Sean and I played football – Pauline joined us after a while.
4/3/97 – In the afternoon Pauline took the kids over to Alison’s. Ruth, Daniel and Rory were there also, and the kids all played … I took Sean and Susanna to the end of the road; Sean and I played football again.
5/3/97 – Pauline went to her last counselling class and Susanna to her playschool. (Susanna’s ‘teacher’ says that Susanna is a great girl – good fun, self-contained, mixes well and so on. She always sits beside her little friend Gillian, who was 4 yesterday, and holds her hand in the yard.)
6/3/97 – Pauline and the kids continued to do big art on the back of wallpaper rolls – Sean did a vey good sea-serpent scene, all by himself. Continue reading
6/6/97 – Pauline, the kids and I did some recording on the computer.
7/6/97 – In the afternoon, Pauline took the kids to a garden fête, despite the changeable weather.
8/6/97 – In the afternoon I took the kids to the green at the end of the road – Sean is now keen on playing tennis.
9/6/97 – Pauline walked with the kids to Sean’s school in the morning. Sean has a trip to the National Gallery and Natural History Museum today.
11/6/97 – Sean is going to Matthew’s birthday party … The party was a success; Pauline was complimented on Sean’s excellent behaviour when she went to collect him … [later] Sean complained of a sick tummy, perhaps from too much cake etc. Continue reading
Pauline says that when she was in Dublin yesterday she kept expecting to see Sean. She says she doesn’t know whether she has fully accepted that he’s gone.
She still thinks of him all the time, and so do I. When I went to the supermarket today it was so easy to picture him walking beside me, to hear his voice, to imagine what he might be saying. The fact that he has died still seems unreal and unbelievable; there is a strong sense that he has not gone away at all. ‘The soul is surely not where it is, but where it loves’, Friedrich Schelling wrote. As I wrote myself in a song, ‘Hope is the cure for the heartache we feel/Hope that life is unending and death is unreal.’
Yesterday I went through old posts on his Facebook page – he uploaded the photo I now use as my avatar on 17 October 2009, exactly a year before he died (although it was taken long before that).
This is song number 17. To listen to it, please click here: Heat of Love
THE HEAT OF LOVE
From the start
To give expression to
Your beating heart Continue reading
Sean with his friend 'Cusker'
We continue to hear stories about Sean. Yesterday we learned that after the brother of one of Sean’s close friends ‘came out’, Sean approached him to shake his hand and congratulate him, and say ‘well done’. Sean, I think, was the only one to do that, and it meant a lot to the young man in question. He also made supportive comments online. Sean believed that people should be what they are, and be allowed to be what they are.
As Susanna puts it, Sean was ‘very accepting’. She is very accepting too … exceptionally so. She is a lovely person, and Sean was too. We hear that he often made the effort to talk at length to someone who didn’t quite fit in, or was on the edge of the group, and we have heard the same thing about Susanna – from her teachers and others. They tell us that she is a wonderful ambassador for her school. Continue reading