Happy Monday, everyone.
Today, I’d planned to write about a short story I was working on over the weekend. This particular short story was pretty much all that was occupying my mind this morning as I woke up. I was intending to submit it to a major competition, and I thought it was reasonably good; I’ve drafted and redrafted it and it’s probably, in its current state, as good as I can get it. But I re-read it last night and realised something weird: I’m not sure whether I like it, or whether I hate it. Normally, it’s obvious to me whether I like something or not. This was strange enough, I felt, to warrant a blog post.
But then I heard the early news this morning, and learned that a young man from County Kerry, in the far south of Ireland, had lost his battle for life yesterday (Sunday). His name was Donal Walsh. Here’s an article about him which has reduced me to tears this sunny Monday morning. Here’s another. If you’ve never heard of Donal Walsh, I hope you take the time to read about him, and about the courage that drove him in his last months to speak out against the scourge of suicide among the young.
Once I learned that this brave boy had succumbed to the foul disease that has destroyed so many lives, I knew that a blog post that didn’t mention him would be a travesty.
Rarely in my life have I come across a public figure that touched my heart as much as Donal Walsh did. Young people in Ireland (and across the world) have, it seems, been turning more and more to suicide as an answer to the darkness that appears to be besetting their lives, and Donal was a light in that darkness. His message – ‘look, see, this is how beautiful life is. This is why it’s worth fighting for. I want to live, but I have no choice – you have a choice’ – has profoundly impacted Ireland, and, I hope, the wider world. In recent months and weeks, he has been appearing on TV chat shows, and on other media, to talk about his illness and his battle, and his belief in the power of the young to make choices which will illuminate the world. He always looked so well and healthy; I had no idea that he was so close to the end of his journey. News of his death has taken me, I have to admit, by surprise.
For a young man to face his own death so bravely is one thing; for him to spend his last months and weeks trying to save the lives of others is a heroism rare in our cynical old world. I never met Donal, nor did I know him personally, but I am proud of him for all he did, and for all his work will mean in the months and years ahead. Long may his legacy live, and long may his light shine.
You, and I, hopefully, have another week, and another week, and another. We have many Mondays, many mornings, many opportunities to feel so tired we’re barely able to roll out of bed and many days when we’ll bounce awake, full of enthusiasm for the day ahead, many chances to do our work as well as we can, many days to spend with our loved ones, and as many moments as we could wish for to tell them we love them. We have time to achieve our dreams. In Donal’s memory, let’s all be lights in the darkness; let’s do all we can to help others to live. Let’s spend every second we’ve been given doing all we can to make the paths of others a little smoother. Let’s never forget how lucky we are to have a choice.
Have a wonderful Monday.