Declan was diagnosed with a brain tumor at the age of 6. A visit to America for treatment couldn’t save him. He was cheeky and daring.
As a family we spent multiple afternoons driving up and down to Beaumont and Crumlin Hospital for treatment. Sometimes we even got an afternoon off school and had McDonald’s on the way home. We thought this was a treat. The truth is our parents were too emotionally shattered and physically exhausted to put energy into cooking.
Declan received his Freddie (nickname for his IV line) and continued to smile and get excited when he saw us, his brothers and sisters, coming through the doors.
His favourite film was Disney’s The Aristocats and his favourite activity was taking the cushions from the couch, throwing his knuckles to the floors, and counting backwards as he charged into his brother Fintan, playing sumo wrestling.
Declan lived with his diagnosis for 6 months. He passed away on May 10th 1996 at the age of 7.
As children between the ages of 3 – 13 Declan’s death had a profound imprint on each one of us, all in different ways. Sadly, we knew death too early and have had to come to terms with missing our brother. Fintan felt he had failed his little brother as he was not able to save him.
Though we may not have all fully comprehended the significance of his death, we certainly felt it in the atmosphere, and to this day we still do.
We have felt the fear from a young age of what death brings to a young family. We were scared our parents or another sibling would die. We were confused and we felt helpless and hopeless. We felt it all. The atmosphere of death was in the house and each of assessed it no matter what age we were.
This is why we do what we do. We get it.