This is like the windmills. Are they for real? Are they in my imagination? Is fighting them just pure madness? Sure, it won’t ever make a difference! Not to me, not to Pádraig, not to anybody else. In the meantime, life goes on for everybody else. Weddings, travel, jobs, nights out. Skyfall is on the telly. I am sitting in the middle of the night writing up rubbish. Listening to Pádraig’s breath.Making sure his head is in the right position so that he is comfortable. Skyfall was what I was talking about, the music I used for my presentation that night in Sanya. 26o Celsius. I keep the city in the list of cities in my weather app. Do you do that? Keeping an eye on the places you have been to using the weather app? Pforzheim 18cC, Obereggen 8oC, Alexandria 23oC, Kazan 15oC, Kathmandu 21oC, Brewster 11oC. Brewster. It hurts so much and the sadness is hardly bearable. Talking about Skyfall in a fancy presentation. Winning a poolside quiz with one of my best friends, getting a phone call at 1am when Im just about to go to bed, booking flights, Shanghai, Denver, Boston, renting a car, travelling, travelling, travelling, trying to remember the lyrics of ‘Forever Young’, travelling, making phone calls where they put me right through to the A&E, no problem, anytime, he is still alive, they don’t tell me that by now they had asked twice, at least, for organ donation, travelling, walking into the hospital, into the A&E, into his room, seeing him with his head all bandaged up, “No Bone” written on it with a black felt pen. Nights and days without sleep, without food, being stopped by the police with their guns drawn asking me at 2am to say the ABC, in English, standing beside the car, wondering whether I’ll be shot on my way to the hospital, walks into the rising sun in Hyannis Harbour, thinking: we must get out of this place, what are they talking about, meeting the organ donation team and the prospect of an intolerable life, what is that an intolerable life, telling us to get some sleep and rest, this will be a long journey, we will need all of our strength.
This is life.
We’ll be going to Boston. We’ll be going to Hyannis. And we’ll walk the last mile to Brewster on 27 June 2018, to arrive at that stretch of the road where this truck tried to overtake Pádraig who never stood a change, to arrive there at 10am, the time of the accident.
Five years later.
When there are days that sadness almost drives me crazy because I’m thinking of what he should be doing right now of what he surely would like to be doing. When there are days I am so happy because we are all together, because he enjoys life, and because he is trying so hard to make the best of what he’s got, we’ve got.
Forget about yesterday. Forget about tomorrow. Forget about what could or should have been. We’re here. Together. Now. Crying, laughing, living. We couldn’t do any better than that. Skyfall on the telly. Pádraig finding his rhythm, his most comfortable position to breathe and to sleep, me listening, going over to help, going to sleep soon.
Walk for Life
Brewster (MA), June, 28th2018, 09:00am – 10:00am
Five years after doctors asked his parents whether they really wanted an ‘intolerable life’ for their son Pádraig (now 27) he returns with his parents and closest friend to Cape Cod to ‘walk’, in his wheelchair, the last mile to Route 6A in Brewster where that catastrophic accident changed his life.
Irishman Pádraig Schäler (27) and his parents, Patricia O’Byrne and Reinhard Schäler, together with Cian Waters, one of his closest friends, will cross the Atlantic for the first time since Pádraig was hit by a van trying to overtake him as he cycled to work at 10am on June, 27, 2013.
Prior to walking the ‘last mile’ from the Brewster Police Department on 631 Harwich Road to the spot of the accident near 2019 Main Street, Brewster, they hope to meet Attorney General Maura Healy in Boston to receive an update on the investigation into the serious issues they raised in relation to the accident investigation.
With their ‘Walk for Life’, they want to:
- Remind drivers to ‘share the road’ and drive responsibly;
- Call for thorough, un-biased accident investigations, especially those involving cyclists;
- Highlight the enormous emotional and financial burden on families of victims;
- Repeat their call for a programme of driver education on the Cape and an initiative to make adequate insurance cover for drivers obligatory.
They were horrified to hear a police officer still at the accident spot on that day five years ago telling them over the phone that “he cycled out in front of a van”, and just a few hours later reading on the internet about what sounded like a conclusive police statement blaming their son not only for the accident but also for the horrific head injuries he suffered – pre-empting the results of what should have been a thorough traffic accident investigation.
They were shocked to hear that their son’s cell phone was confiscated by the police to be examined and even his bicycle taken in for examination, when neither the driver of the van, nor his cell phone, nor the van itself were checked by the police. The van, in fact, was brought to a garage that same afternoon by the driver. Despite the gravity of the accident, no significant outside resources were called in to assist with the accident investigation.
The parents were astonished to be told by the Police Department that such accidents sadly happen every summer involving ‘foreign cyclists unfamiliar with the rules of the road, wearing dark clothing, wobbling along on the wrong side of the road’ – again apparently blaming their son for the accident. Their son Pádraig was a very experienced cyclist who had not just undergone formal cycle training in Germany, he had also cycled extensively in Europe, including the length of the Italian peninsula.
While Pádraig still requires 24-hour care and extensive ongoing neuro-rehabilitation, while he is still unable to speak or to control his body, he has made amazing progress over the past five years, thanks to an extensive neuro rehabilitation programme largely financed by his family and friends, and, above all, to his unbroken desire to live and to enjoy life as best as he can – even under very difficult circumstances. Pádraig has travelled the “Camino” to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, participates in regular swimming sessions (he was an Irish champion swimmer), and continues going out with his friends as much as possible.
The financial cost of this accident to Pádraig has been estimated by independent experts to be around $12 million – nowhere near the value of the drivers insurance policy, even if it that had been fully paid.
- Join Pádraig, his parents, and one of his closest friends at 09:00 on 27 June 2018 for their ‘Walk for Life’ from the Brewster Police Department to 2019 Main Street, Brewster. Let them know you’ll be joining them here: http://bit.ly/Walkforlife
- Support their call for better road safety driver education and un-biased accident investigation by writing to the Attorney General and the Governor of Massachusetts.
- Help Pádraig’s family and friends to cover his life-long specialised neurological rehabilitation programme by kindly making a donation via CaringForPadraig.org or https://www.gofundme.com/PadraigsWalkforLife
Irish Road Safety Authority “Overtaking Cyclist” Campaign
Information on the IRSA campaign to call on motorists to keep a safe distance when overtaking cyclists on urban and rural roads. The campaign aims to educate motorists on recommended minimum passing distances.