In all honesty I didn’t even want to write this post. I actually spent the last 24 hours deliberately shielding myself from reading anything to do with the tragedy at Buncrana. I just didn’t want to know; didn’t want the knowledge to stick in my brain and work its way down until it got lodged in my heart. I didn’t want to imagine those people in their last moments or to picture the heartbreak of a young woman coping with enormous sorrow.
Much of this probably has to do with the natural instinct of most of us to pretend tragedies just don’t happen…or at the very least they just don’t happen to us. But this family was very ordinary, very commonplace. They would not have expected their day out to end the way it did. This is life. It’s sudden, it’s loud and it can be gone in a flash.
As I studied each photo in the newspaper today it struck me that such happy shots would now be forever connected with their deaths. These images would become iconic in their way; a glimpse of an Irish tragedy on a sunny day. I can see the smiles on their faces while I write this and I still wish I could have left the paper where it lay in the shop.
But I realised that, in a way, this was an insult to those people, to their memory. Those who died deserve better than that. They deserve to be mourned by all of us, by everybody who has ever loved and ever felt the bonds of family embrace them. We will all hold our children and partners a little closer this week, we will bless the luck that has spared us and send our loving thoughts to a woman who has lost everything.
We too spare a thought for the tiny infant who will never know her father or her brothers. But in this we may find a tiny sparkle of hope; this mother-daughter team will mean everything to each other and perhaps in her daughter, Louise will find the strength to carry on.
I send all my sympathies to this grieving mother and my heart hurts for her today.