Tag Archives: loss

Sean’s room

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January 16, 2014 · 1:04 pm

Westport 2007


We found some video tapes of a 2007 long weekend in Westport, Co. Mayo, where we went to celebrate Pauline’s mum’s 80th birthday. Nuala’s four children, four children-in-law and eight grandchildren were all there – 17 people in total.

Sean was behind the camera on 27 April, filming us as we drank and chatted in the beer garden of a pub on a gloriously sunny day. At one point he is heard to say ‘We’re going to look back at this in years to come and remember what a great day it was.’

It’s like a metaphor for our lives now – we can see ourselves and each other, but we can’t see Sean. I often feel that he is still present behind the scenes, looking out for us.

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Some diary entries … 28 July to 31 August 1991

29 July 1991 – Sean aged less than 24 hours

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


Filed under Death, Ireland, Memories

Some diary entries … September to November 1991


1/9/91 – I got up at 7 and brought Sean downstairs so that Pauline could get some decent rest. Fortunately, the last day’s athletics from Japan was being shown – I also went out for the paper. Pauline was up around 10.30 – after breakfast the three of us got a bus to Westland Row and a DART to Blackrock. Went to the market, had something to eat, chatted to Yvonne, Nick, and Yvonne’s brother Ronan. Good crack. Bought a beanbag. Pauline fed Sean in the café – her first time in ‘public’. Again it was a beautiful day … Nick said there was loads of signwriting to do if we wanted to … we said no. All our signs in Blackrock have lasted very well. We got a 17 home, and arrived in time for the All-Ireland Hurling Final – Tipperary 1–16, Kilkenny 0–15. Not a great game, but I was glad that Tipp won. I made a fry for dinner and we stayed in for the evening.

2/9/91 – I was extremely tired, Sean having made a lot of noise again during the night. And tired all day at work … When I got home in the evening there was a paper and a letter from Joyce. I should be getting a book manuscript soon … I was too tired to start the freelance work. Very glad to be getting it though … Continue reading


Filed under Death, Ireland, Memories

Three years

I put this on Facebook on Thursday – the third anniversary of Sean’s death.

Thank you so much to everyone who sent messages and good wishes for Sean’s anniversary today. Thanks also to people who called to the house and spent time with us. We had a few drinks and Sean’s friends talked about him a lot, and laughed and told stories – Pauline and I love this kind of thing. They told us that if Sean walked into a crowded room and the only available chair was broken, or just a box, Sean could make it seem so comfortable that soon someone would want to swap with him. That he was a peacemaker; that he always gave good advice; that he made sure his female friends were treated properly by their boyfriends; that once Sean arrived everyone knew it was going to be a good day or night; that he had strong opinions on music, politics, sport and everything else, but never held a grudge or cared if people disagreed; that he brought people together, and they have drifted apart since he’s been gone. A lot of people looked up to Sean, a lot of people listened to him, and a lot of people loved him. It’s good for us to be reminded of this.


Filed under Death, Ireland, Memories

Some diary entries … December 1991 to February 1992


2/12/91 – Sean was asleep at first in his cot, but has now awoken and I’ve brought him downstairs. His teeth have been bothering him lately, so there may be some squalls. Later: Sean was good.

5/12/91 – Went to supermarket and cooked pasta with veg sauce, some of which I succeeded in getting into Sean.

6/12/91 – I have a day’s leave, and am minding Sean. Pauline is at a training course in Harold’s Cross for the job. It’s 1 o’clock, and so far it hasn’t been too bad; just the odd bout of crying. He went to sleep at 12.30 but woke at 12.35. I’ve been giving him breast milk that Pauline left. Later: Sean and I went to Dundrum, him in the pram and me on foot. Borrowed Francis Stuart’s Pillar of Cloud and a book of Garrison Keillor stories in the library. He screamed a bit when we got home; I gave him half a rusk and some fennel drink. Pauline arrived and made a big fuss of him – she’d never been away from him for so long. Continue reading

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Filed under Death, Ireland, Memories

Solid Gold


This is a new song that I have written. To listen, please click here:


In times that I look back upon
I see the golden light that shone
But that you would soon be gone
There was no way of knowing

If I had the choice of things to do
With anybody that I knew
I would like to sit with you
And watch the water flowing

But the river bends
And our absent friends
Have moved on out of sight
Into the gentle night

When our yearning blends
With words the spirit sends
The song we sing for them
Is not a requiem
The love we hold
Is solid gold

When our hearts are open wide
Connection cannot be denied
Love will bridge the great divide
And break the chains that bind us

In this world of flesh and bone
We all will reap what has been sown
When we roll away the stone
That’s hiding what’s inside us

You and I are one
Beneath the moon and sun
Just like those olden days
Seen through a golden haze

In the market of
Our pure undying love
The things we sacrifice
Will go to pay the price
What’s bought and sold
We have been told
Is solid gold


Filed under Ireland, Memories, Philosophy of life


If you are visiting my blog because of RTE’s Nationwide programme, you are very welcome, and I hope you will like it.

I started this blog in May 2010, and at first wrote about miscellaneous things that interested me. Since Sean died of SADS on 17 October 2010, the blog has mostly been about him. If you wish, you can click on the links under the ‘Archives’ heading to the right to see what I was writing in any given month.

Details of my novel Larris & Me are given HERE.

I have written around 23 songs since Sean died (having never written any before). Three of these have been recorded with good-quality equipment and are on YouTube:

Sean and Clio in the Snow
Beating Heart
Come Back and See Me

The rest I recorded on a small Dictaphone-type device, sometimes with Pauline singing too. They are as follows (please click on a title to visit the post, and follow the link to listen):

Running in the Dark
Do You Hear Me When I Speak?
Pink and Gold
The Well
July to September
Nothing But Love
One Way
The Road
All Because of You
Devil’s Bit
Hey Sean
The Heat of Love
No Way of Knowing
Lament for Sean O’Brien
7021 Days
Gone Away
Love Remains
Losing You
Love You and I Always Will

Thank you for your interest! It is much appreciated. Please feel free to leave a comment if you wish (first you may need to click on ‘Nationwide’ at the very top of this post).


Filed under Blogging, Death, Ireland, Memories, Philosophy of life

Loss and love

The pain of bereavement is an organic thing – it does not stay the same. It changes and develops just like the person who has been lost would have changed and developed. We did not lose only the 19-year-old Sean whom we loved so much. We lost the 20-year-old Sean, the 21-year-old Sean, and now the 22-year-old Sean. And so it will go on, for the rest of our lives in this world. We lost his joys, his tribulations, his company … his children. We lost his friends (although we may see some of them from time to time). We lost his future friends and colleagues. The void left by his passing does not diminish – it grows larger as his life would have. It cannot be properly filled.

Yet it is filled to some degree by memories of Sean, by the pride and joy of having known him, and by the feeling that somehow he is still around – not just in the heads of those who knew him, but in a real, albeit intangible, sense – and that all is well.

We have proof of the indelibility of love, which is not just a figment of our brain cells but a force in the universe – a river in which we swim.


Filed under Death, Ireland, Memories

Love You and I Always Will


This is a simple little song that I’ve written, sung here with no accompaniment. To listen, please click here:


All the leaves are falling down
On the fields and in the town
The cup of life is hard to fill
Love you and I always will

I can hear some people say
They’re sad to see you’ve gone away
As I’m climbing up the hill
Love you and I always will

Love you all the way and back
What you have is what I lack
Memories are not a proper meal

I’ve four seasons in each day
From September up to May
Summer rain or winter chill
Love you and I always will

That old magic is still in
Air I breathe and on my skin
Birds that sang are singing still
Love you and I always will

Time will pass, the months and years
Will fall down around my ears
But the way I feel will never change


Filed under Death, Memories, Music