Last night my husband, four children and I spent the night with a friend in Waterford. It was a lovely night. We stayed home as our host cooked a delicious meal and the children, both hers and ours, squealed with laughter as they darted around the house playing games. But there was also a slight tinge of sadness.
Let me take you back to 1991 and the night I met my husband. I was with my friends in a nightclub and he was there with his. I couldn’t help notice him on the dance-floor as both he and his friend were unusually tall and heads above everyone else. He asked me to dance that night and that’s when it all began. His friend, I soon learned, was called Brendan and the two were very close. Fast forward a few years and my soon-to-be husband was best man at Brendan and Marie’s wedding. Five months later, Brendan was best man at ours.
The one thing that always sticks out in my head about Brendan’s best-man speech was when he spoke of his friendship with Paddy, my husband, and how he hoped and prayed that both couples would be blessed with children and that they’d also become friends. The next few years passed in a haze of happiness for us all as we both had two healthy children – a girl and a boy each. Then shockingly and devastatingly, in November of 1999, tragedy struck and ripped the heart out of us all. Brendan was heading into his job as a garda one afternoon when he was involved in a horrendous car crash. I won’t write about any details but he was killed outright. His daughter was three and a half years old and his son eight months.
Anyone who’s suffered tragedy in their lives will know how numb it can make you feel. The few days after the accident were surreal and I remember thinking that if I can feel like this, how must his wife, children, parents, sister and brothers feel? It was beyond heartbreaking. His funeral was beautiful and I was very proud of my husband who stood on the alter and gave a eulogy. It began with: “On this very day six years ago, I stood here at Brendan’s side and watched him beam with happiness as he married the woman he loved…” Six years to the day. How things can change in the blink of an eye and so many lives turned upside down.
Fast forward to the present day and my heart soars when I see all our children together and love the fact they get on so well. I’m sure Brendan was smiling down today, watching them have such a great time – he may have even organised for the ridiculously heavy shower of rain that drowned them all and sent them squealing into the house!
Brendan lives on in his two children, Jane and Tim, who look so much like him. But more than that, they’re lovely kids – kind, caring and joy to be around, just like their dad.