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THERE’S NO PESTO

Look at you. You are 6 years old. Your head pressed against the car window humming “Shakira, Shakira, my hips don’t lie, Shakira, Shakira.” You’re looking at the countryside whizzing by. Are you comparing it to Ireland? Or, are you thinking of meeting your cousins? The excitement when the holiday was booked. Two weeks camping. Four families. The brochure promises fun for all. Swimming pools, minigolf, rodeo shows, trips to local beaches, shows for the kids every night.

Look at me taking a breather. You are 9 years old. I’m in a restaurant with my friends, and we turn our phones off with a collective sigh and raise our glasses to well-deserved break from family life. Meal over and it’s time to go home and we all turn our phones turned back on.

10 missed calls! Trembling fingers I dial Ciara.

‘What’s wrong, are you hurt?

‘No, I’m fine.’

‘Is somebody hurt?’

‘No.’

‘Then what’s wrong?’

‘There’s no pesto.’

‘What!’

‘There’s no pesto.’

‘What NO PESTO!’

Silence

‘Ciara, it’s midnight the shops are shut.’

Small person. Small voice, ‘There’s no pesto.’

Look at you, aged 12. You are smiling for the camera with flower in your hair. Full of excitement, it’s the start of a new chapter in your life. Blue skirt, grey jumper, the Loretto emblem, your new school. Your dyslexia made school a challenge, but academics was only a minor part of your school day. It was the friendship that pulled you to school every day – a social butterfly. You walked into a classroom and anyone you sat beside and by the end of the class, you source out their whole life story. You cherished everyone you met. You embraced their differences, and not only had you the courage to stand up for yourself, but you had the courage to stand up for others.  You accepted everyone and found something positive in everyone.

Look at us. You are 14. We’re in the car singing  A Thousand Miles. You say that’s our song and we turn up the radio full volume.

Look at us. You are 16. We’re on the train. We’re going to Dublin for your appointment, but it’s not really about that, it’s about spending the day together, shopping, going to lunch, telling me those runners are really lovely, of course they suit me.  No.no you’re not too old, and you mutter under your breath, sure I might let you wear them the odd time. And then you smile at me. How could I refuse?

You are 17. You are still. Look at us, Me, Dad, your brothers. Crying. Numb with shock. Disbelief. Cold. This happens to other people, not us, not me. The priest speaks. Your friends go up to the altar, one by one with tears in their throats, trying to be strong, to honour you, say what a beautiful, funny, and best friend they have lost. You were a best friend to each one of them. The church is full. Kodalines appearance was kept a secret. They all came for you, all united in grief.

I am in your room. I am lost. Minimalism is not a word to describe you. There are piles of clothes, shoes, bags, shoe boxes, shopping bags. Jack Wills, Abercrombie & Fitch. Your first teddy.  Notebooks, diaries, journals.  I read them all. I read your dreams, your lists of shopping, your bucket lists. At first simple lists, innocent lists – sneak out and stay out all night, go to Dublin on the train, then to being a lifeguard on Bondi beach. Countries you want to see. There are sketches of clothes. You designed clothes. I never knew that. A dress with labels. White lace, a sweetheart neckline, a mermaid tail. It’s simple but elegant — your wedding dress.

Look at you in St Anne’s Park on two large screens, one on either side of the Kodaline stage. You are smiling, laughing,  15,000 people look at you. They are listening to Steve, he points to a screen says, ‘This is Ciara,’  and he sings, On a Wednesday morning in July we dried out tears and said goodbye, Another angel gone before her time. Your song. I can’t take my eyes off you, and our eyes meet for a second.  The crowd cheer when Kodlaine finish.  We dry our tears again.

I am in the car, “Sweet Dreams” by Heart is on the radio. I am pulled back to 1986, I London and I am plunged into a sense of loss. The song is a memory of a time when I was full of dreams and hope, a sense of excitement, my life was ahead of me, my dreams, my future. But I am in the Now, and push away the Then, as it brings with it a  loss. The future I once had is gone. You’re gone.

I am in a coffee shop — my friend’s talking, laughing, talking about someone else’s pain. I am an outsider. Their grief has moved on. Someone else needs their attention. I didn’t know it until now, but I got comfort out of their grief for me, and when it moved on to someone’s else pain, I find that hard. That’s natural and is something I have to accept. Everyone moves on, but a part of me is suspended with you. Now I can grieve with other people, I want to tell them in time their grief will not be as raw, they will breathe again.

I am at home. The grief doesn’t hurt as much anymore. It’s true, time is a healer. But, your laughter still echoes in our house.  Grief plays hide and seek with me, it jumps out of the shadows unexpectedly, and I crumble at your loss, no warning no reason. It just happens. Though not as often now. And funny that makes me sad. I am sad I don’t ache with grief as much. I feel I am losing you; the pain of grief is my connection to you.

Outside I often stand still and close my eyes in the breeze, and I feel your arms wrap around me,  your voice in the breeze whispers my name. And when I walk in the sunshine, it’s your shadow that walks beside me. Grief is lonely but I try to carry it with a smile.

This is our 4th Christmas without you, our only daughter. Another Christmas, your brothers,  have without their only sister. Our hearts may be heavier, our bones still ache with grief, but it is not as raw.

I am not sad because of the grandchildren I will never have, or sad I will never see you in a white dress.

I am sad that you never got to be a lifeguard on Bondi Beach, or you never got to travel, or you will never got to wear your wedding dress, or you never got to live your life, and I never got you the pesto.

Happy Christmas Ciara.

 

 

 

Reading the situation Wrong

First Perspective
When I entered the New Years Eves party I scanned the room to look for my husband Frank. He wasn’t hard to find. He was eagerly pushing his way through the guests towards a guest.
She was prettier, younger, and more stylish than me. I pulled my sweater sleeves up, trying to look less frumpy. I should have worn a dress, but it’s cold, and when you get to my age practicality rules your choice of clothes. Comfortable shoes, thermal vests, and a woolly hat are my stable garments of choice. My husband once was like that, but not now.
During the summer Frank joined the gym. When he told me, I laughed.
‘Gym at your age, it’s hill walking you need not a gym.’ He ignored me and pulled his new tight gym tee shirt down and walked out without saying another word. And sure enough over the coming months, the gym shirt started to fit him better. He bought a blender and every morning I woke to a whiz and found him drinking some green yuck in the kitchen before he left for the gym.
Tonight he was wearing the white tee-shirt he got at Tesco’s to emphasise his new lean tanned body. He must have started to use a sunbed because they hadn’t had a foreign holiday since the pension had been reduced.
I felt naked at the party. My bridge friends swapped their knitted sweaters for dresses and glittering makeup.
‘Prosecco?’
‘Pardon,’ I whirled around to the voice. In front of me was a spotty faced teenager who could hardly hold the tray of flutes with golden bubbles. I grabbed one and went off to look for my husband, or to spy on him.
He stood by the bar, whiskey tumbler in his hand, swirling the rocks of ice. His hair dye had run down the side of his face. His tan was smudged. I felt sorry for him. Why did he have to do all this? Was he that unhappy with me? Or, the reality maybe he was afraid of getting old. We’re all afraid of getting old, but no matter what we do on the outside, the inside ticks away and there is nothing we can do about it.
She does look interested.
She blushes as he lightly touches Petite Blondes arm.
She throws her head back, laughing.
How am I to compete with that. Her clothes are haut couture, she has no bumps on her hips and no grey bits of hair falling on her face.
I need to get out of here, I need air. The French doors are open in the living room. Frank and Petit Blonde are engrossed in a conversation. I pass the bridge club ladies apologising saying I’m not well. They know, they must-see. Never in my 40 years of marriage did I ever feel so mortified. I finally reach the garden and the cool night air glides over my face as I look upwards to the stars and wonder what is it all about.
Second Perspective
‘Excuse me have you a light. Sorry I didn’t mean to startle you. I just need some air.’
Samatha looks at the old woman sitting alone in the dark. She wants to ask is she ok? The old ladies’ cheeks glisten in the moonlight. But Samantha thinks she might think her forward. She reminds Samantha of her best friends granny. Small and cute, with the same blue rinse hair.
‘No, dear I’m sorry I don’t smoke.’
Samatha laughs. ‘God, no need to apologise. I shouldn’t either I know its bad for you, and I  don’t usually, but there’s a creepy old man that won’t leave me alone. Did you see him? You can’t miss him. He is has a streak of black hair dye down the side of his face.’

Entry from this day three years ago Sept 13, 2016, 3 months after Ciara died|

Eimear’s Journal

Another day

Its another day and as usual my first thought is Ciara. During the night, I woke many times with dreams of her, but thanks to my sleeping tablet, I fall back to sleep.

When I wake, I know within the first five minutes what type of day I will have. Yesterday was good. I think of her all the time even on good days, but on a bad day, the tears flow constantly. I could be in the supermarket or sitting in the carpark waiting to leave, and the tears suddenly start to flow and when I try to suppress them, I can’t.

The Autumn is here the days are getting chilly and light becoming in short supply. I dread the winter months ahead. Thoughts of dark evenings are filling me with dread. It’s a panicky feeling. Not just lonely, but I also wonder what will I do with my life.

I am so lonely. I have not only lost my daughter but a friend. Someone who loved me, loved me unconditionally. When she was in primary school she told me that when the girls in her class asked her who her best friend was? Her reply was, ‘My mammy,’ and she’d also say,  ‘I don’t care that they laugh at me. You are my best friend.’

Later in life, she would tell me I have a big nose, or my hair looks awful, only as a best friend would say, she was just honest, and she cared.

I’m,  so fucking angry. Why did this happen to me and my family?

This morning I found a Mothers Day Card while I was looking for the neck massager. The massager was in the cupboard above the microwave. The cupboard was a collection of junk; I found a paper clipping from 6 years ago from Packies 90th birthday.

I found a pink mothers day card. I honestly had never seen it before, but I knew it was from Ciara. Written on the right side in pencil it said To mammy. I love you. , and on the left page is written on the bottom also wonder it said Thanks for all the years.