Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Brenawn O'Connell: An appreciation and letter to the truck driver who was also involved in Brenawn's accident

Brenawn in Dingle 2006
Dear Friend,
                       You met my brother on a Donegal road.  That collision changed lives forever – his, yours and ours.  I have no doubt but that road haunts you and it can haunt you forever if you let it.  Roads like these are treacherous.  They can go on destroying lives long after the debris has been cleared away, the masses said, the coffins covered.

But there is another way.  And I ask you to do a favour for me, in honour of my darling brother.  You needn’t go to Donegal; you will carry that scene forever in your heart and in your mind.  But, please, when you visit that road again, lay down your burden of regrets, of what ifs and if onlys.  Leave them there behind you on the road.  He would not want you to carry them.  He was a man of few burdens.
While you’re there, please pick up my brother’s smile.  It was there he lost it.  He left it there for you and would have wanted you to have it.  Use it, as he did, to bring joy and sunshine into the lives of everyone you meet.
You can also find, there, his generous heart, filled with love for friends, family and strangers such as yourself.  It is his gift to you.

Another thing my brother left behind was his love of life, his joy and enthusiasm.  Please take it.  But be careful, it is catching.  It has infected us all.  He would want you to live every single day of your life as an adventure.  Joy is the most precious gift that he bestows and he would hate to see yours stolen from you by him.

My friend, you and I were strangers until you met my brother in the Barnesmore Gap.  His passing has left a bearnas mor – big gap – in our lives and yours (he was fond of the Irish language too).  My dearest wish is that, when you or I visit Barnesmore (that road as we hold it in our minds), we will find a Phoenix rising from the ashes of his loss.  That Phoenix is hope.

My brother died attempting to bring hope to the 800+ potential victims of suicide in Ireland every year.  Both he and I would wish that hope would rise up and embrace all of those people, all of his friends in the Cycle Against Suicide and you and me in the process.  Let it start with you and me.

I didn’t get to meet you at his funeral, but I would like to thank you for your presence there.  Maybe in happier times we will meet and you will reflect back to me Brenawn’s smile.  I hope so.

                                                                                                              Órfhlaith Ni Chonaill