We all had a brilliant early bird dinner together in one of Dublin’s finest restaurants, tonight five years ago. When we left the restaurant, there was a seagull in front of one of the houses on this beautiful Georgian square, with a few small twigs in her beak. Almost tame. Not flying but walking up and down some steps in front of one of these really old houses. We didn’t know then. But it was the call of seagulls that would follow us for the next few years and remind us of this night that we had spent together as a really happy family. Trying to make as think what could have been. What should have been.

It’s Pádraig’s birthday today, as it was this day five years ago.

Five years ago, he had just finished college and was going to spend the next three months in the Boston area on a J1. That night, we were not just celebrating his birthday but also marking the beginning of the summer that would bring him to the USA and us to Germany. It was our last evening together before we were all going to go off in different directions.

It is hard to remember and think of the joy that we felt when he was born 28 years ago. When the memory of that night just five years ago is so strong and, at the same time, so incredibly sad.

It makes me think that it is good not to know what life holds for us. It would be unbearable.

Today, was a rollercoaster of a day. So sad looking back. So happy being here with him, eating the cake he had chosen, getting a bag full of birthday cards. Blowing out his birthday candle.


Pádraig had his first of a serious of ‘parties’ to mark his birthday and his incredible determination to live his life with energy, positivity, and fun. As we all should, really. Some of his German family was here to join us for lunch and ‘Kaffee und Kuchen’ with his first presents – there will be more when he’ll get back home this Friday. And then there will be a big and very special birthday party in the Club of Conradh na Gaeilge on Harcourt Street on 9 June.

There was a huge “Happy Birthday” banner in the therapy centre. There were people singing a range of different birthday songs in different languages almost non-stop. It was so nice and so good to see how many people were wishing him well.

Birthdays are funny days. No matter what the circumstances. No matter what the age. One thing is certain, for me, at least: they are the perfect occasion to practice that wise way of living in the moment and seizing the day. Looking back doesn’t change anything. Planning the future is usually pretty futile. Speculating what could have been or, worse, should have been, is definitely not helpful for a healthy mind.

Even if those ubiqutous seagulls keep trying to make me think that way.