Sunday, April 22, 2007

In Memoriam Stephen Dowdall (1992-2007)

Unfortunately, I must break almost 3 months of silence on a sad note. One of our pupils at school died at the untimely age of a mere 15 years. As of writing, all we know is that it was natural causes - some form of seizure, stroke or brain haemorrhage. Tomorrow I will attend his removal with his classmates and other teachers and then, his funeral and burial on Tuesday morning. Dealing with grief is always difficult because we have to deal with many layers of grief both in ourselves and within the short lives of our pupils. Many of them are dealing with other untimely deaths whether of one or other parents or close relatives or friends. However, we are supporting one another well at this time. In the meantime I would like to share this poem with whoever may wish to read it. I dedicate it to the memory of Stephen Dowdall. Rest in Peace, Stephen!!

Unfinished Work (For Stephen Dowdall 1992-2007)

A picture of his face,
Radiant and smiling,
Full of youthful hope,
Centres now the notice-board,
Calls wandering eyes
To a fixed point
Where life stops
So final -

Even in the midst of
All this toil and sweat,
Of chalk and talk
And words upon words
And lessons half-learnt
And even never learnt.

We are an unfinished work,
Rough for the most part
Like Michelangelo’s prisoners of stone
Struggling to be born.

We have not been worked upon enough,
Have not yet suffered enough,
Our rough edges need so much
To be more finely chiselled
And the dust needs to be swept
From the stone floor of our busy lives.

We will say goodbye on Monday next,
View his corpse
Cold as stone
Like a statue carved by Michelangelo
To be buried in the clay.

We will cry our tears
Silently singing our grief
As old as the first words of love
Uttered by a lonely Adam
In the quiet of a garden.

We will stand guard
As they carry his body
To its resting place –
And try to accept
What we can never understand –
The death of one so young –
And the mystery of it all.


Unfortunately I don't have a picture of Stephen to append to this post. However, I have placed a quiet meditative picture I took of the Garravogue River in Sligo from Summer. 2006

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