I put together my wedding in just three months. I had to fit in with someone else’s timeline. Long story – no funny punch line – plenty of odd side stories. Anyhow I was never the sort of girl to dream about my wedding day. I just presumed there might be one at some time and if there was not, well then I was obviously going to be just fine on my own. My future never depended on having a man in my life.
So apart from exhaustion after the frenzied truncated preparations I didn’t get to feel the come down or hangover that some girls get post wedding. They build up to the event, but I just saw it as a stepping stone to married life.
Only one disappointment registered afterwards. When I looked at the photos. Don’t get me wrong – the photos were lovely, beautifully taken and capturing the day perfectly. But there were some shots that I, as an amateur photographer, would have loved to have had. Because of the rush to arrange everything else I had never asked anyone to capture them for me. Silly things such as a shot of my dress from behind to fully show off the puddle train, or a family shot of just me, my mum and my brother on our own. But I put it behind me because you cannot redo these things any more than you can undo the past.
Four months and four days after our wedding we got word that my sister-in-law had passed away. The baffling shock that surrounds Sudden Adult Death Syndrome. We took out the photos to pick something suitable for her memorial. And then it hit me.
The one photo I really should have got but had missed. Me and my new sister on my wedding day. We always had photos of the two of us whenever we got together. But no. There were loads of us in group shots but not one of just the two of us smiling together in all our finery. All the other missing pictures faded into insignificance against this one missed opportunity. The last shot of my husband’s family all together was taken on the night of our wedding. They all look so happy. Frozen in time. A moment to cherish.
They headed out with expectation
Possibility filled the air
Bedecked in colours
Away from home –
Could leave behind their cares.
But minutes in and something’s wrong….
Shouts are filling the air.
The whistle blown…
The die is cast
The terrible finale unknown.
Those faithful fans
They never again can roam
Their lives were lost
By the pitch that day
While we watched
With horror at home.
Those Liver Birds
They never flew again
They tried to take
Your names from you
And condemn your families’ pain.
You tragic band of innocents
They twisted and they lied
Already murdered they defamed you
While a city united cried.
You tragic spirits of Anfield
You have haunted our field of dreams
Until you’ve been vindicated
We never could fully achieve.
After 25 years
Truth is pealing
Your souls can finally come home
Justice Sing Loud
For the 96
– You’ll Never Walk Alone!
On 15 April 1989 at Hillsborough stadium life changed forever for hundreds of families and hundreds of thousands of football supporters. For 96 Liverpool football fans the change was final. It also began one of the most appalling injustices perpetrated on citizens by members of the establishment.
Irish television was showing the match live. The images will never fade from the memories of those who have seen them.
In 2014, some 25 years later, the inquests finally hear the truth. Hopefully the truth will set their spirits free.
Never to be forgotten.
Today we brought wee Princess to have her photo taken. Nothing too serious, just one of these chain companies that are found in shopping centres. I had a won a voucher towards it in a competition and we said we would try to see if we could get something worthwhile. Mostly I wanted to see if we could get a family shot of me and mon amour with our little lady.
I knew it was going to be a strange day when we walked onto the concourse. In the centre of the thoroughfare was a large red chair with the words ‘I WANT YOU’ etched underneath.
Behind a curtain a group of people were getting ready to warble into a microphone. People were gathering around to gawk and the cheekiest were putting their kids up on the chair for a ‘selfie’. Not the noise levels you want when you are trying to settle a little child. We quickly walked past and headed for our photo shoot.
Thirty minutes of screaming, trembling lip and drool later (Princess did not appreciate the photographer’s efforts and constant bell-shaking) we emerged somewhat more fragile into the centre. I thought nothing could be as surreal as that rushed experience. I was wrong.
As we turned the corner with the pram we walked into a giant monkey!
Here safely. My daughter, a precious new life that came into being within me. A tiny thing that relies on me for warmth and sustenance, utterly dependent. Huge bright eyes that follow my every motion, tiny rosebud mouth that breaks into a gummy genuine smile at the slightest bit of attention. Wee nose that wrinkles up as she puzzles and concentrates and tries to shape the words that she hears. Plump cheeks that fill roundly as she coos her approval. Tiny fingers intertwined around my one large one holding fast – a strength belied by her size.
She is a thought. A poem. A lyric. A dream. A work of art beyond the greatest masterpiece ever conceived and rendered by man. She is the echo in my every heartbeat and my reason for waking.
She is love made whole.
Breathing can be difficult. Breathing for two even more so when you consider pushing oxygen through the placenta and all the extra load on your system.
Breathing through all this with a heavy chest cold and cough while unable to take medication is just a step further along that line of awful.
Today I was made to feel like a criminal for trying to buy menthol lozenges so that I might breathe and eat at the same time, perhaps even ease the pain of the hard hacking cough that follows each rib-caught wheeze. The pharmacist shook her head and told me slowly, in small words, that she could not sell them to me because I was pregnant. Because of the menthol. As if I was some slow-witted individual for not knowing this. I wanted to cry. Instead I sneezed…and my innards slid down my face. Very attractive.
What makes it more ludicrous is that I can walk into the newsagents at the bottom of the shopping centre and buy the same lozenges. And they will say nothing to me. And nothing shows me what harm menthol is meant to cause my pregnancy or unborn baby. I bet that a malicious man dreamt this up!
So I am sitting at home doubled up with the force of the coughing strictures and sipping hot water in the hope it will loosen enough mucus to breathe through the night.
I’m not American. In fact I had not set foot in the United States before this year. But I have close family now that have introduced me to the the idea and experience of Thanksgiving. On a bleak November day it is a candle that brings light and warmth to the dark winter, a lily pad stepping stone across the dark pond.
So Thanksgiving I will celebrate and give thanks for my family, my friends, a good job, a warm home, the money to fill my fridge and pay the bills. I give thanks for those I love who love me I return, for colleagues, for fun, food, and freedom. Yes I have my problems, but my scale is overbalanced with goodness.
It is good to re-evaluate and give thanks.
Funerals are hard at the best of times – this one was particularly cruel. The church, an over large concrete structure, was chilled and morgue-like. The extras to the drama filed in, blank faced or grim, dragging their limbs to the pews. All around the hastily assembled 50 shades of mourning, style was the last of considerations as we were called to witness, called to supply mute and numb support.
The service seemed coldly ritualistic, with no trace of human empathy, the words empty of connection to the girl at the altar, devoid of emotion. The actors took their cues woodenly, their timing was off by a beat so the ceremony dragged. And yet, beneath this frozen surface glistened anger…diffused by its lack of single direction. It was not visible, and yet it was there.
The parents walked like ghosts to the coffin and laid a bible to rest. The gulf between them and the gathered congregation at that moment as absolute as a child watching footage of the moon landings, visible to the eye but incomprehensible to the viewer in its enormity. Their faces wore the lines of nightmares that had embossed their daylight hours.
We walked out into the Wintry sunshine, sharp eye-watering brightness, with the smell of incense in our nostrils and the sound of unanswered questions in our ears. A beautiful girl, gone. And we turned and walked away because we could.