Tag Archives: Sean O’Brien

To Sean, on his 25th birthday

[I wrote this in July but forgot to post it here then.]

You should be here in these times
To tell us what you’re thinking:
To show how your sweetness has developed
And your sharpness has increased.

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To Sean: Six Years On

This unholy blur started with shivers:
Our lives’ coldest spell.
You were gone for no reason;
Time passed slowly while snow fell.
Ireland froze, except for rivers of tears.

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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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Levels

People sometimes ask Pauline and me how we are coping with losing Sean, and we answer as best we can. Words are inadequate. We are glad that they ask, though. We have sometimes wished that more people would ask, even if we can’t answer properly. It’s not that we want sympathy; it’s that we are still a family of four, and always will be. We like to speak about both of our children.

I have often said that one deals with something like this on different levels. Just a few hours after I had found Sean’s body, I was able to show something to a visitor to our house that I knew would surprise and amuse him, and we laughed about it. I was on that level at that moment. I was also operating on deeper levels at which I was no doubt trying to process, unconsciously, the awful thing that had happened.

I remember that within a week or so of Sean’s death, an online acquaintance became slightly impatient at the fact that I was still talking about it on my blog (in fact I talked a lot about it there for a couple of years). This person saw himself as spiritual, and knew that I saw myself the same way. As far as he was concerned, Sean was in a better place, all was right with the world and the universe, and I really ought to get over it already. I was polite, but I knew that the person in question was being naïve. I could adopt his attitude at one level, but not at all the others. People are not so simple. The online acquaintance stopped commenting on my blog. Continue reading

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Headstone …

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An old tape …

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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.

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A successful weekend

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We had a busy weekend. The local Ramor Inn Golf Society had very kindly decided to dedicate its annual fundraising effort this year to CRY Ireland, in memory of Sean.

Susanna arrived home from France on Friday; we were joined later that day by Mary, Aoife and Liam. There was a quiz and raffle in the pub, and a ‘corner session’ afterwards with Caroline, Seán, Noel, myself and others banging out a few tunes and songs. It turned out to be a late night.

The golfers were up and out early on Saturday morning, at Virginia Golf Club. We stayed at home most of the day, and watched the rugby – a great game, notwithstanding Ireland’s narrow defeat to England.

Pauline, Liam and I went to the pub again that night, and met up with many of our friends. There was music and a raffle.

When all the money was counted, it turned out that €2,520 had been raised for CRY. We are delighted with this, and very grateful to all those who made it happen or helped in any way, and the local community who supported it so generously. It was a fitting tribute to Sean’s memory, and will go towards preventing the sudden death of other young people. Sean would be pleased and proud.

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