And I won’t breathe the bracing air when I’m gone
And I can’t even worry ’bout my cares when I’m gone
Won’t be asked to do my share when I’m gone
So I guess I’ll have to do it while I’m here.

Phil Ochs

Today, 27 June, When I’m Gone is for Pádraig.

So I guess I’ll have to do it while I’m here.

It was a great week.

So I guess I’ll have to do it while I’m here.

Pádraig’s wheelchair got a new fitting to position a switch above his knee. He tried out a Mollii suit. A Saebo glove. And got a brief intro into the sophisticated Fasia glove with tons of e-stimulation contacts and settings.

So I guess I’ll have to do it while I’m here.

But that is not all.

A shipment arrived with two packets of the one and only Pete’s French Roast to replenish the dwindling and outdated supplies in Leitrim. Together with a really nice message on a fantastic card.

So I guess I’ll have to do it while I’m here.

And then tons of the most fabulous music. Including that song by Phil Ochs, When I’m Gone.

So I guess I’ll have to do it while I’m here.

What is the condition of the person? – They are dead.

How much do you press? – Press harder.

For how long do you press? – Until the ambulance arrives.

These were some of the questions the instructor asked and then answered himself at yesterday’s life saving course all of us from An Saol attended. The course came free with the purchase of a defibrillator, an AED. It’s a smaller version of the two iron’s George Clooney in ER pressed on the chest of a patient, shouted “Clear“, hit that button, and the motionless body of the dead jumped into the air.

The little stories the instructor weaved into the course, taken from his experience of working as a first responder, were one of the most interesting aspects of the course, we all agreed.

He explained the symptoms of a heart attack and stroke. There were short videos showing what it would look like if one of these events occurred.

He told us that around 2,000 people a year suffered from a heart attack in Ireland at home or in the workplace. He then asked us, how many of those survived eventually. I proposed “2/3“? A colleague ventured “Maybe one quarter?” – “Less than 10%”, clarified the instructor.

At that, tears shot into my eyes. The one space not covered by my mask. The instructor looked at me and said: “You are very sad!? Unfortunately, that is the truth.” He repeated that a few times.

Would I tell him and my colleagues and friends in the room anecdotes of my life? Explain why I was so suddenly hit by sadness and grief?

That Pádraig’s life was saved by a nurse who jogged down Route 6 in Brewster eight years ago today. Then, miraculously, again exactly five years later when Pádraig went back to the accident spot. Who did not hesitate to run to Pádraig’s help and administer Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), pressing her hands deep into Pádraig’s chest to resucitate him after he had been hit by that van.

A 4.3 ton van, travelling at speed, had hit Pádraig from behind and knocked him off his bicycle. His head hit the windscreen and left a dent in the van’s ‘A-pillar’. When his body hit the road, he had lost consciousness and was not breathing.

He survived against all odds.

He is with us today against all odds.

I did not share that story.

Nor my own story about the night on the floor of my bedroom, unable to move. Of that life-threatening disease that had come and gone, hopefully, in our family.

Life has never been the same. But then, it never is.

It is challenging. For all. In different ways.

Pádraig at a Nick Cave and Patti Smith Gig

What matters is that we are alive. And together. Together with hundreds of Dreamboaters around the world. Celebrating life and living with a brilliant song full of energy, dreams and hope.

And that inspiring song by Phil Ochs.

And I won’t be laughing at the lies when I’m gone
And I can’t question how or when or why when I’m gone
Can’t live proud enough to die when I’m gone
So I guess I’ll have to do it while I’m here.