The death has occurred of Karl Cullen (Karl Cullen Fitted Kitchens).
We hold Karl Snr., Annette, Darren, Diarmuid, Karl’s uncles, aunts, cousins, extended family and work colleagues in Karl Cullen Fitted Kitchens in our hearts.
In a few brief moments on Sunday evening everything that we live by was obliterated.
Our usual conscious awareness of life shattered.
Our hearts are broken. We’ve all been thinking of Annette and Karl, Diarmuid and Darren, their loss like a great dividing gulf of pain that we just don’t know how to cross or even approach!
Many of us don’t know what to say or even how to go out to meet you.
But this community – many communities – are heartbroken
We’re devastated with you.
We know at least in our minds, if not in our hearts, the magnitude of the painful journey that lies before you and it is unimaginable – unconscionable – it paralyzes us. At some point in recent days, we’ve all been frozen!
We know too – if we’re honest – that most of us will be pulled back into life relatively quickly but for you, the Cullen family, it will be an event that’ll slowly shatter your life meaning. It’ll be like walking on the bottom of the ocean!
So much of your life-meaning has been shaped by Karl.
This “cheeky chap” as his Mam described him, “who didn’t care what he said or who he said it to…”
I get a sense that Karl pushed you more than Diarmuid and Darren together, more than 6 or 7 versions of Diarmuid and Darren!
As Diarmuid reckoned “the best way to get Karl to do something was to tell him not to do it!”
Or as Darren said, “he was bold as brass but everyone loved him afterwards.”
The more the odds were stacked against him the more he relished the challenge, across the board, whether on the GAA field or in business. He’d a lion’s heart.
Unstoppable really… he’d just go after something…
He’d no fear and a fierce determination but as soon as he’d mastered something he’d be gone to something else… you just couldn’t keep up with him.
Hugely successful but he wore it so lightly. It really didn’t matter to him.
One of his most endearing qualities was that Karl was just Karl no matter what happened. It didn’t really matter to him that he’d made TV… move on… what’s next?
But he covered a multitude with that smile, Annette and Karl Snr knew it, family knew it, and a handful of others knew it.
He always said that Grandad was the only one who “got” him.
If we didn’t get you Karl, well you got us, you stole our hearts.
The future will be about picking up those shattered pieces of meaning and rearranging them to find altered meaning…
We cannot live without meaning.
The recovery of meaning – who “I” am now and who “we” are now after these events – is vitally important. We simply cannot survive without it.
All our memorial events – whether it’s a hurling match, a tractor run, whatever – are part of the human effort to recover meaning.
But ultimately life is calling us beyond ourselves to a much more expansive meaning.
Mary, the mother of God, was as paralyzed before her crucified son, but we cannot say that God had abandoned her…
When she received the violently disfigured body of her son into her arms had God abandoned her?
No! The best was yet to come, beyond her wildest imagination.
She would experience joy on a level beyond all human comprehension because she had become aware in her own personal experience that although she’d seen him die so horribly, he was now alive in a whole new way.
He is alive, her joy bursting out through her grief. He is alive… alive… alive…
In the brutal death of her son God was opening here-to-fore unimagined expansive meaning.
I’ll leave you with a piece from Peg Sayers:
At this point in Peg’s life, she’d lost four children ranging in ages from infancy to eight years, an adult son, and her husband:
“Often during life, I have known God’s holy help, because I was often in the grip of a sorrow from which I could not escape. When the need was greatest, God would lay his merciful eye on me, and the clouds of sorrow would be gone without a trace. In their place would be a spiritual joy whose sweetness I cannot describe.”
I pray that Karl Snr, Annette, Diarmuid, and Darren… all of you… will know just something of this as you struggle to find altered meaning.