From a dear family friend on my mother’s passing:

“In my mind I have spent much time in the composition of this and find that when it comes to write to you that I am almost unwilling to do so in fear that what is penned may seem so trite in light of how your life has changed. I have put this off for too long, not because I am too busy – although that is a common excuse used by so many for so much – as the implication is that I am too busy for you, the opposite would more likely be the case, but rather unwilling because it requires me to face what is a harsh reality. I have found that in the months since we last spoke that you are both regularly on my mind particularly there are so many things associated with my home that remind me of your last visit. So much so that I have found it quite difficult to write anything that would be meaningful. While this cloud is still over me I feel that I can put it off no longer.

To say that you have my deepest sympathy belies the oddest sense of loss that I have felt, making an expression of sympathy seem incongruous – particularly as I can only appreciate the tiniest fraction of your loss. In my own home, there are so many memories that have been evoked from the arrangement of furniture or a particular vase that I sometimes wish that I had no memory at all. There is one particular jug that I recall being filled with flowers when I returned home one day from work during your last visit. The simplicity of the arrangement struck me and the image is etched into my memory. The most heartfelt emotions are the joy at someone doing this simple thing, the pleasure of the company and the sadness that I will not have the opportunity to recount that simple moment to she who created it. That is only one example of so many little things touched by someone who spent such a short time in my home and left such a mark. I do not even want to move the furniture any more.

If this is how I feel, I cannot imagine how this has impacted you. A whole lifetime of such moments, memories and warmth. For me, it is all the small touches and moments of fun that were filled with a loveliness that I suspect will rarely if ever be repeated, and created by a person motivated by a kindness and caring that are a form of love in themselves, one which, when encountered, makes one feel that one is a very special person – deservedly or otherwise. I am amazed at the happenstance meeting in Barcelona, the fun over lunch and the most unusual connections that arose from that; most particularly meeting with Yves Fortier in Dublin, but more the meeting with (Frances) Jane O’Malley in Kilkenny. I do not believe that I have the words to express the good fortune that was mine to sit at that particular table, in that particular day at that particular restaurant. Heavens, I should not even have been in Barcelona at all.

My feelings about the fact that I was not able to attend in Knowlton is something that I cannot truly express. One should bury one’s dead as part of the rites of life, it is in a way ones duty. While it was certainly not my place to be in Knowlton and I could not attend by virtue of the tyranny of distance, I did feel that there was a personal tribute due from this fair isle. This is perhaps best expressed to you personally rather than through a grand gesture of travel across the atlantic.

Words are such a curse in that there is nothing that I can write to reach out to you. I do hope that when you came to Ireland that it was something that you both enjoyed and that it will hold many happy memories for you. I know that my visits to Knowlton are just that. The warmth of the welcome is one that I will always cherish. While neither will ever be the same, I can only hope that you will be able, and feel welcome, to lean on those around you who are only to willing to support you as your life goes on. I often recall that when I drove up after my bar exam and lost the parking ticket in your building the evening you drove out to Knowlton. On that trip I remember you saying that you were at ease and comfortable with your own mortality. It was a profound and deep comment that I often refer to and reflect upon with respect to myself – and I have to say that I agree with you and have long been of a similar disposition. What I find more difficult to deal with is the mortality of those involved in my life, and particularly those who have, ever so briefly, touched it in the most meaningful way; awakening visions and realities that would perhaps have otherwise lain dormant for a whole lifetime. Susan was one of those rare and exceptional people. I regret to say that while I will likely never meet another such person, I am not sure that I would want to, for a second such loss might be too much.

This may seem disjointed, but since the moment I heard the news of Susan’s passing, the fragments of memory began to sink like the debris of a shipwreck to the abyss of my mind and it is only of late that the have begun to float to the surface – now perfectly formed and to be treasured for ever.

My dear friend, I look forward to seeing you soon and to sharing a few quiet moments with you in contemplation, and over time – and I trust that it will be a long time – many interesting days for we have much to speak of and I have much to learn. When you have had a chance to read this I would very much like to speak. It has been a cathartic exercise for me to write and I am thankful that it is an electronic communication for I fear that it would be tear stained paper that might have proved difficult to read.

Ar deis De go raibh a anim”