Friday 12 August 2022

Til we meet again

 I took comfort in receiving this picture from my relation on Wednesday evening. It’s a red moon rising over Coum, the place of my mother’s birth, just outside Dingle on the west of Ireland, in the Kingdom of Kerry. It is my happy place so views from there are always welcomed, no matter the darkness of the day.  

Earlier that day we bid final farewell to my brother Jarlath. With his twin John they were the eldest cousins on my mother’s side, from my generation of the Clann a’ Choma, as the Quinn’s from Coum are sometimes known. By strange coincidence, the eldest cousins, my twin brothers, shared a birthday with our youngest cousin, Padraig. 

Today is known by some as the glorious 12th and the start of the grouse season. Shooting ain’t my bag, as in my world mom’s don’t do guns. But it is how I remember my sister Cathy’s anniversary. I saw my first shooting star the night she died. I later discovered it wasn’t any kind of a celestial celebration of her life, as I first thought and hoped.  Apparently clusters of shooting stars are common in mid-August. Still, on the glorious 12th, with shooting stars, she will forever be remembered by me. I’ll be out tonight looking for them in her memory.

We said our goodbyes to her and Jarlath’s twin, John, more than a decade ago.  

Earlier this summer, on the twin’s 70th birthday, and Padraig’s 42nd, Padraig passed. 

I truly wish to not be so acquainted with death and grief. My memories, shared experiences, and photo frames are full of the dead. The symbolism of my surviving siblings now fitting into one car as we accompany a final journey multiples the heartbreak of the individual losses. Despite the distress of the changing ratio of the living to dead in my phone contacts I will not delete them. I want to remember them, without letting the guilt of grief steal my potential moments of joy. For as Buddha said: joy is never diminished by being shared. And I do believe, life is for the living, while we can. But also maybe grief might not weigh quite so heavy in being shared. 

As is the way of families, I share a name with Jarlath’s daughter, Shivaun, and Padraig’s sister, Siobhán. 

On September the 3rd, Siobhán will walk the Dingle Marathon in aid of The Kerry Hospice Foundation, in memory of Padraig. Friends and family plan to join her for sections of her walk.  I hope to as well. 

Padraig received great care from the Kerry Hospice Foundation, a voluntary palliative care organisation. This is Siobháns fundraising page for the Kerry Hospice in memory of Padraig:

And this is Shivaun’s fundraising page for the British Heart Foundation in memory of Jarlath here:

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