How Darkness Into Light brought us together after tragedy

As proud sponsors of Darkness Into Light 2018, we asked Humans of Dublin to interview Darkness Into Light Committee members Martin Brosnan and Patricia Turner on why they help organise the walk in their home town of Tralee, Co. Kerry.

Martin 635-min

"Pickles, my son, was only a youngster, about eight years of age, when I took him fishing for the first time. The river was a couple of hundred yards away from where we lived. We set up everything nicely in one spot and his big brother and the lads took another spot a little further down. I caught a couple of small fish and then he wanted to try. So I told him, 'Here, you can use my rod, but be careful with it now! Let me show you what to do.' I wasn't even paying much attention when, bang! He had a fish! A huge, beautiful Sea Trout, I couldn’t believe it. He barely got it out of the water, and the first thing he wanted to do was run back home to show his mother. I said, 'There is still fishing to be done here son!' My three fish were only about half of the weight of his but he just kept saying 'no, no I really want to show it to Mom'. I remember I had to pack up everything and go all the way back home just to show it to his mother… I never thought, only a decade later, I would walk by that same spot on the way to bury him… He took his own life. These memories, with so many others, went though me like a hot knife though butter… It was the most devastating time in our lives but his brother's whole world fell apart. They were inseparable, five years between them but they were like twins. He never wanted him to be out on his own. They went everywhere together. If you picked with one you were picking with the other… That's the way they were. He couldn’t get over losing his brother. Seven months later he followed him too… So here I am now… two out of five dead. It took me some time to realize that I’m not here for the ones that are gone. I have to be here for the ones that are still here. I’m not looking for answers anymore, because there are no answers, they are gone and took the answers with them. Now I need to be here for the ones left behind…"

patricia 635-min

"My husband and I were together since I was fourteen. We had six children and a happy life together but 20 years ago, he had a massive heart attack and left his whole family behind. Paul, my third child, admired his father so much and losing him took a big toll. He had a relationship with someone who already had two children, it was good and it was bad. Every now and then he would come home and say he was finished with her. It put a lot of strain on the family and his mental state got even worse when they did break up. That was when his depression started. At our very first doctor's visit, they recommended for us to go to the hospital… He was in for a week, taking two tablets a day and then they just let him out the door, without a check-up, without any advice, nothing. A few weeks later he was back being depressed again, there were days when he couldn’t leave the bed. So I took him to the doctor again, but every time we went back they would just up his dose. After a while, he was like a zombie. He would come to me saying, ‘Mom, I’m not feeling okay, I feel I’m going crazy'. I got him counselling but he felt like no one was listening. He stopped looking for his friends, he would turn off his phone and spent days in his room. My daughter would hear him going to sleep crying. I didn’t understand what was going on and I had no idea who to turn to… One day, I left for just an hour, and when I got back, he had taken his own life. He was depressed, but I reckon the tablets ruined him even more… We desperately needed help and our health care system failed him. I wish Pieta House was around earlier…"

Martin and Patricia 635-min

"I knew him before, but only from seeing him around. We used to salute each other on the street, until the day I was introduced to him. He knew about my late husband and he also heard about me losing my son. We talked and he told me about losing his two boys. We had a great conversation and at the end, he asked me if I would like to meet up sometime. I said yes, but it never really happened. I was a widower for 13 years by then and I liked him, but I was very shy. Months later, just before Christmas, we went down to the Greyhound Bar, and there he was, with the other woman. I thought, 'Well, I was too slow…' However, I went over to wish him a Happy Christmas. I tapped him on the shoulder and said, 'Hi Martin, I just wanted to wish you Happy Christmas!' He said 'oh, Happy Christmas to you too, Patricia! Let me introduce you to my sister, Aileen!' When he said that, I felt a little spark… We talked a bit and he asked would I'd like go for a drink some time. I said, 'Martin, you ask me every time we meet, and we never do anything about it!' He said, ‘Well, I will now! Have you got a phone?’ So I put my number in his phone but I thought he would be drinking with his sister all evening and probably won’t even remember he met me. The next day, sure enough, he texted me and then called, he asked me out for a date… That was 6 years ago. Our past experiences created a very strong bond between us and we became the ‘power couple’ for Pieta House in our community. We both experienced things that nobody should ever experience. I always say, we are in a club that nobody wants to join, but with Darkness into Light we can be part of a group that everyone wants to join. And that is the most wonderful thing we could ever wish for…"

Martin Brosnan and Patricia Turner are both committee members with Darkness Into Light for Pieta House in Tralee, Co.Kerry. Darkness Into Light takes place across the country on Saturday May 12th at 4.15am and is proudly supported by Electric Ireland. Visit www.darknessintolight.ie.

This series appeared originally on Humans of Dublin. Thanks for Peter for meeting with Martin and Patricia.