An Irishman's Diary
But suddenly there in Doolin neither could understand how the other had suddenly become so irrational. He seemed to think my doubting the existence of God was gratuitous and I was angry that he would doubt my sincerity. We left the pub separately.
Later that night Eilis came to my tent and said, “Ye have to sort this out.” So we three went for a long walk in the dark, the stars winking at us from infinity above. It was useless. But the anger was gone, replaced by a sense of loss.
Over time we “parked” God and got on with the friendship. Though God did make guest appearances. A few years later we were at another reunion of our Galway gang. This time it was in Newmarket, Co Cork where a couple from the group then lived. Very much later Pat and I went for another long walk, this time through the early morning Cork countryside.
When we got back near the town I noticed Sunday Mass was beginning in the church. As a gesture, I suggested we attend. We stood at the back like the countrymen we were, reeking of alcohol and cigarettes. We agreed on the beauty and simplicity of the “Our Father”, whether as lyric or prayer. But I knew he wished I could feel it as he did. And for my sake.
Afterwards, he led the way to a pub where he knew we would get in at that hour. I never did find out how he knew this. And it was one great mystery I had the grace to just accept.
Soon we were “discovered” by others from the gang who greeted us with a mixture of relief and rage. They had been searching everywhere and were about to call the guards. We, who they deemed lost, had been found.
At Pat’s removal there was a reading from Luke’s gospel account of the resurrection, where two angels ask the grieving women, “Why look among the dead for someone who is alive?” We won’t ever search for Pat among the dead. He continues to live among us, his family and friends. He will do so for as long as we live.