“in the end colm determined not to get treatment because he knew what he was going to stand.”
lengthy after una o’hagan says those phrases, i handiest clock their possible meanings. in his recent e book, journey’s give up, posted inside the wake of his loss of life final january, colm keane, writes another time of the afterlife.
“colm did no longer have a fear of dying because of the books he had written,” says una of her late husband.
“that’s no longer to mention that colm wanted to move but he made a rational selection that he could stay out anything time he had left doing the things he desired to do in place of being stuck up within the clinical system. in those previous few weeks colm stated to me: ‘i don’t want to loaf around’. i knew what he intended. he desired to live a full existence for so long as he should. and he did.”
i meet una o’hagan, the former rtÉ newscaster, at her home in ring, county waterford. it’s a brief stroll to the sea and not far from colm’s homeland of youghal. interior, the partitions are alive with memories: artwork of jimi hendrix and the beatles, framed duration posters of dancehall live shows, teach tours and perks amusing truthful.
“while seán turned into a kid we used to carry him to perks,” says una of her and colm’s best infant who died of cancer in 2007 at the age of 20. “we have been just new to the process of citing kids. seán could arise to us and we’d maintain handing him money. we have been almost bankrupt by way of the cease of the day. then we discovered to offer him a pound so he had to ration his money. that poster of perks rings a bell in my memory of seán.”
the residence is quiet – the postman come and gone – a few 5 months after colm keane’s demise. overdue closing yr, whilst his most cancers lower back, each knew what lay ahead.
“while colm stated he wasn’t going to take the medicine to extend his lifestyles i knew too that it became the proper issue to do. i also felt relieved because colm couldn’t cope with the alternative, that painful component of attempting desperately to preserve someone alive. so in those last few weeks together we did all those lovable, everyday, mundane matters due to the fact that’s truly what life is made up of.”
“the ultimate lengthy stroll we did became on youghal beach, close to where colm grew up, per week or so earlier than he died. in fact the primary time we met we went for a walk on youghal beach and now, some 34 years later, we did the identical aspect.”
colm and una first met in rtÉ within the late ’80s. he became working as a radio producer, she changed into within the newsroom. following a talk in the canteen, colm gave her a bell.
“our first big date changed into a league of ireland fit, shamrock rovers in a cup semi-very last in milltown and it was lashing rain.” colm was sports activities mad – following bray wanderers fc, while he lived inside the city, and a lifelong fan of cork city (or cork hibs as he knew them). una shared colm’s love of game, especially football. they also each cherished music, travel, records and while seán got here alongside, they 3 have been inseparable.
“now i study couples who sit there and don’t communicate to each other,” says una. “that was in no way the case with myself and colm.”
she nevertheless talks to colm (“i ask him what he thinks of positive matters”) and at the summer season solstice scattered a number of his ashes on youghal seashore even as the rest have been buried with seán.
“publishing the ebook became a exquisite therapy however humans’s reactions to it was additionally uplifting,” she says. “people observed it so comforting. it offers with some thing that many of us don’t need to speak about but colm’s work led him to believe that death isn’t always to be feared.
“and on the night time colm died i got here again here on my own. i put on a track cd simply to stop the deafening silence. it turned into the freewheeling bob dylan and blowing in the wind. ‘what number of roads ought to a man stroll down earlier than you name him a person?’ being attentive to that first line i concept colm too had walked down so many roads, he too had completed the difficult work.”
colm keane’s faith changed into some thing his spouse also shared. “even if seán died we both believed that we’d meet him again. quite a few people might say to me now ‘i’m positive that colm and seán are together now’ and that i consider they are. i don’t see them with wings floating round on clouds.
“colm described heaven as no longer being a bodily region. it’s a post-dying nation of superb happiness wherein all our hopes and desires are fulfilled. so i think seán and colm are collectively in some manner and in case you’re talking excessive happiness i’m sure that they are speakme approximately soccer! we aren’t that far at the back of the human beings we have cherished who’ve gone before us. we’re in the direction of them than we think.”
following seán’s analysis with most cancers, colm and una devoted their lives to their toddler, earlier than he died near middle of the night on christmas day 2007. “any figure could have completed that so i don’t suppose that there was something unique in us doing it,” says una now. “i nevertheless talk to seán, and colm’s dying has additionally brought him again even more.”
“changed into it elizabeth kubler-ross who described the 5 degrees of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and reputation? humans assume that while you lose somebody you undergo the ones ranges in a particular order. but i every so often have all of them on the same time. it took time to accept the loss and i consider that point is the handiest component that works because as colm used to mention you forget about the awful recollections and the best reminiscences come to the forefront.”
at seán’s funeral, after the group had melted away, colm and una faced each different throughout the vacancy. in that moment, with viable paths going through them, una took her husband’s hand.
“it seemed like the wrong aspect to do to stroll away,” says una. “i simply remember placing my hand in colm’s and the two people held every other up. we have been very fortunate to live collectively and that i don’t know why we did. perhaps we had been each just very cussed. perhaps seán had some thing to do with it.”
“colm and that i were alike in some methods but also no longer alike in different methods. i helped to pull him through then particularly in the wake of seán’s demise, to hold going. i assume i gave colm the information that we could get thru this collectively, that the easy component of going on changed into in itself a victory.”
within the weeks earlier than his own loss of life, the ever-sensible colm keane ensured all his earthly affairs had been in order. “he knew he was going to fulfill seán and necessarily i might be following alongside,” says una. “colm changed into very clean-sighted in the ones last few weeks. one of the last matters he said changed into that i had to post adventure’s end.
“he insisted on it and that i suppose that became also pretty smart of him due to the fact he knew that i’d be quite busy working at the ebook, some thing that helped inside the months following colm’s demise. however then there was nobody like colm for being a producer, continually 3 or four steps ahead of me. one night i used to be at the pc, running on the e-book, feeling low, but then i smiled due to the fact i idea ‘colm knew exactly what he became doing with this ebook’.”
journey’s quit, posted posthumously remaining april by means of his personal press, capel island, was colm keane’s thirtieth e-book. the subtitle, the truth about lifestyles after loss of life, is a ambitious assertion. however, as ever, keane stacks his argument with learning, referencing thomas aquinas, saint augustine, pope gregory and even quantum mechanics.
the text is also punctuated with dozens of interviews with humans describing their ‘close to death’ reports. it’s not keane’s first book on the challenge, having previously posted going domestic, the remote shore and we’ll meet once more, however it seems like the suitable coda. besides it isn’t as there is another unfinished book in the works, a memoir approximately an infamous irish cleric, which o’hagan plans to put up next 12 months, colm nevertheless pulling the strings.
And life goes on. O’Hagan recently celebrated her 60th with her family and as a birthday treat for herself, is getting her garden designed. There are also thoughts of taking a short break, maybe a trip to their favourite place, the island of Orkney off the coast of Scotland. “We spent a week there one time and it was fabulous.”
Asked about her abiding memory of Colm, she points at a figurine on a nearby shelf. It’s of a windswept man sporting a cap and red and white scarf. “We bought that in the football museum in Manchester. It always reminds me of standing in a League of Ireland ground with the wind blowing in the freezing cold. There is an absolute determination in that figure to stick it out to the bitter end and that too was Colm. I smile every time I look at that figure now.”
In his last hours at Waterford hospice Una was ever by her husband’s side. “I was holding Colm’s hand and talking to him all the time. I told him that I loved him. I told him that he was a great dad. And I told him that he had left a wonderful legacy behind.”
And on that January morning when I heard that Colm Keane had died, another image flooded back. It was Munster Final Day in Thurles some years back, June sunshine and melting ice cream cones. Outside Semple Stadium I bumped into Colm and Una, like two teenagers giddy with excitement ahead of the match. “That was one of those golden days,” Una says now. And it is the picture I carry, a couple together forever, lit up in each other’s company, through good times and bad, to journey’s end.