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Thursday, 21 June 2012

An Irish mother's eulogy for her 22-year-old son - Sebastian victim of Shane Clancy

This is the full text of Nuala Creane's eulogy at the funeral of her son, Sebastian, in Dublin, Ireland yesterday. He was murdered by his girlfriend's ex-boyfriend ten days ago. He was buried in a wicker basket coffin. Her faith and forgiveness in the face of darkness is awe-inspiring. I just wanted to share it with the forum users to show how the light IS getting through in unexpected ways.

"Seb's body is back in a Moses basket. It’s a little bit bigger than the one he began life’s journey in, but it serves the same purpose: a place to rest.

We are faced with a grim reality today, burying my youngest son. Reality for me is the sum of all my experiences, my beliefs, my thoughts, which I project out into this world and with which I create my story.

In Ireland we have a great tradition of story-telling. Firstly, we tell stories to try to make sense of the human condition and secondly, when we share our story, we connect with one another. We come to know each other.

This morning, I am going to tell a story. In my story, my God is the God of Small Things. I see God’s presence in the little details.

My beloved J [her husband James] and I decided to have a second son – we didn’t know it was going to be a boy then of course – because we didn’t want D to be an only child. And I knew also that my expectations of Dylan, if he was on his own, would be too high.

Seb was eager to be born. He arrived three weeks early at 10 minutes to two in the afternoon.

Do you remember the old days when the clock faces in the haberdashery window all read ‘10 to 2’ because the face of the clock looked like it was smiling? If you’ve never seen it, look at Ledwidge’s window in Main Street. My God of Small Things was telling me this would be a happy child. And he was.

Seb has 45 first cousins. What a bountiful table to sup from throughout one’s childhood. Seb was also the youngest child in the Grove and he did his best to be as good as the rest of them.

At 2½, he could cycle his bicycle without stabilisers on which at every opportunity he would disappear around the corner, abandon the bike at the door of Pauline’s shop and stand with his curly head peering round the door, brown eyes trained on Pauline, waiting until she relented and gave him a sweet.

Still as a nipper, he was with me in Hickey’s one day when I was buying curtain hooks. As I queued to pay, I realised I needed another one. Showing the hook to Seb, I asked him to get me one from the shelf. When he brought me back the correct one, I stored the information away. He had a good visual memory. It would stand him in good stead.

Contrary to popular perception, academia for Seb was not easy, but fortunately, he met teachers in St Nicholas’s Montessori, St Cronan’s, St Gerard’s, Sallynoggin Senior College and Dún Laoghaire Institute, who challenged him, tested his mettle, supported him, praised him, so that he became a fine, young man.

The last gift Seb gave to J and I was during our summer back in June. One Sunday morning, Seb informed me that he fancied a swim down at the seafront. I didn’t pay much heed.

He asked J and J said ‘Yeah’, he’d walk down with him. I was asked a second time. I gave in. So around midday Seb threw the towel over his shoulder and the three of us traipsed down to the beach. We sat on the pebbles and watched him as he went in for his dip . . . As I watched Seb I thought the child in that fella is still alive. It’s a memory we treasure.

Maybe my God of Small Things is saying, let the child inside each of us come to the surface and play or, as a point of fact, that I was blessed with a sunny child. Or as a parent I know that the one gift each of us would want for our child, is that they are comfortable in their skin . . .

And now I ask what is my God of Little Things saying to me about this incomprehensible act which took place in our home on Sunday morning of August 16th? This tragic incident which caused mayhem in all our lives and robbed D of a younger brother he was proud of. As D himself said, Seb was like him but with swagger.

D, Seb, Jen and Laura faced a presence of demonic proportions that manifested through Shane Clancy. How do I, Seb and Dylan’s mother, even try to rationalise this one? We live on Earth in a world of contrasts – big, small, hard, soft, good, bad, dark and light, but one can’t paint a picture without at least two shades.

It is the dark which gives definition to the light. Darkness is just the lack of light.

Through my God of Little Things, I notice that both boys who died were 22. Both had the same initials. Both were entering their final year in college and looked set, even in these recessionary times, to have fruitful careers.

So many similarities, yet on the morning of August 16th, my God of Small Things said to me, one boy represented the light, the other the darkness, as they both played their parts in the unfolding of God’s divine plan.

And as a result we, my beloved J and I, and all of you, are faced with a choice: do we continue to live in darkness, seeing only fear, anger, bitterness, resentment; blaming, bemoaning our loss, always looking backwards, blaming, blaming, blaming, or are we ready to transmute this negativity?

We can rise to the challenge with unconditional love, knowing that we were born on to this earth to grow . . .

Our hearts are broken but maybe our hearts needed to be broken so that they could expand.

And now that we have our attention on our hearts, please bring to mind a happy moment in your lives – the happier the better. Now let that happy feeling fill your whole heart. Now bring your attention to Jen. She feels so responsible. She blames herself. Bathe her heart in that happiness. Let our happy thoughts wash those feelings out of her. Keep sending her your happiness. And then forgive yourselves.

I am so conscious of all you young people who came in contact with Seb. I know you’re bewildered and want to do something to make it right. The best way you can honour Seb’s life is to co-create the most enlightened lives you can. The light that shone in Seb shines in you also, in its own special way. Let it shine and be at peace.”

She also included an excerpt from the John Donne poem, No Man Is An Island:

No man is an island, entire of itself

every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main

if a clod be washed away by the sea,

Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were,

as well as if a manor of thy friends or of thine own were

any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind

and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls

it tolls for thee.

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