One Less Present to Wrap

25 August 1998

The pain is getting stronger. The nurse checks the baby’s heart.

The babies’ rhythmic heartbeat on the machine beside me soothes me, momentarily, the contraction intensifies that I lean forward into the pain.

‘Are you OK? Are you sure you don’t want an epidural?’

No’ I reply through clenched teeth. God the pain.

‘I’ve changed my mind I want one.’ I screamed as the contractions became closer and more intense.

‘What?  An epidural? No, I don’t think so, too far gone. Only a few more pushes and then we are there,’ she smiled at me, ‘Here,’ she handed me the tube again.

I sucked hard. Nothing. ‘It’s not working I said,’ ‘It’s N-O-T W-O-R-K-I-N-G,’ I struggle to say through the pain

The nurse lifts up the gas canister, ‘Oh God. Sorry, it’s empty, wait a minute.’

She replaces the empty canister handing me the tube, I grab it and suck hard, it is some relief, but the pain is getting more frequent and more intense.

‘Hi, I’m Carmel.’

A lovely pretty face with a black bob smiles at me. She calms me. ‘I think you’ll be ready soon, one more push.’

I push, the pain is unbearable, but the only way to end it is to push again. With all my strength and will, I push.

‘I see the head, good girl Eimear, keep going. You’re doing great.’

John says something but now all I see is pain. I keep pushing I want it to end. Finally, I feel a sense of relief flood out of me.

‘It’s a girl. Say hello to your daughter. A crown of brown hair. I take her. Another piece in the family jigsaw.

Friday, 8 July 2016

Before I pull out of Lidl carpark, I look in the mirror and see her waving her arms frantically and running to the car.  I stop. I push the button to open the passenger window.

I sigh, ‘‘Now what?’

She sticks her head inside the now open passenger window and breathing heavily she says,  ‘Money. I need money, we are going to Pegasus after the concert.’

She smiles

I sigh and say, ‘For God’s sake Ciara, don’t you have any of your own? And what do you mean after the concert.’

‘We’re all going. Please.’

I know, and she knows I’ll give it to her. I spoil her, and she knows it. I give the one thing never had as a child I never had – a mother’s love.

11:00pm Friday, 8July 2016

I’m in the car. John is driving. It is dark. The motorway is nearly empty. We don’t talk, we can’t talk.

‘Any news?’ John asks.

‘No’ I look at the blank screen of the phone.  It rings. I don’t recognize the number, but I know it’s a Meath number (046)

‘Hello.’

‘Hello, this is Garda …., from the traffic division. We have organized a police escort for you.’

I freeze, I don’t know what to think.

‘Where are you know.

I ask John and tell the guard.

His reassuring voice says, ‘We often provide this service in situations like this. Don’t worry.’

‘An escort. That doesn’t sound good,’ I say

I’m afraid to think the worst.

Soon we are following flashing blue lights with our hazards on.

12:30am Saturday, 9 July 2016

We follow the flashing lights to the entrance of the Emergency Department of Tallaght Hospital.

The scene is wrong. A paramedic is standing at the entrance waiting for us to get out of the car. He should be running over to us telling us to hurry, to follow him. He walks to meet us as we get out of the car, he says something to us. I don’t know what it is, but I follow him and John into a room into a grey bare room with three or four hardback chairs and a round table.

He is speaking, telling us to sit. He sits in front of us and leans forward, his hands are entwined.

‘She is a very, very sick girl.’

I hear John say, ‘Do you mean she might die?’

‘Yes.’

He nods, ‘I’m really sorry, but she is very sick.’

He stands to leave and a tall woman in a white coat and man wearing blue enter the room.

They sit in front of us and she says quietly and slow, ‘I’m really sorry, but Ciara had died.’

10 pm Monday, 12 December 2016

These are the very clear memories I have of Ciara. I have looked at the videos of her as a child and remember nothing. It’s like I gave birth to her yesterday and then dropped her to the bus for the Kodaline concert in Marley Park, I never got to hug her before she left.

I never got to hug her before she left.

I miss her.

I miss her telling me that when she puts eyeshadow on me that I have wrinkly eyelids.

I miss her laughing at me when I drop something in the supermarket.

I miss her telling me all her friends’ secrets that she swore to them that she would not tell me.

I miss going for walks with her when she quizzes me on what I did as a teenager. I always said I would tell her when she was older – now I can only speak to her, but I can’t see her except in my dreams every night.

This Christmas I have one less present to wrap. I don’t know how I will wrap any.

I didn’t know it was possible to cry so much every day –every hour. They may not be visible tears, but I feel them.

It’s like someone has stuck a serrated dagger into my heart and continually turns it.

I miss her.

I miss her.

From the Author: I live in Kilkenny, Ireland. I’m married and have three children, two boys and Ciara. Ciara was three weeks shy of her 18th birthday, she was and still is my only daughter, the middle child. She passed away unexpectedly attending a concert with her friends at a band called Kodaline

Ciara was fun, vivacious and a friend to many people, and always looked out for the underdog in society. The band sang at her funeral, and they wrote a song for her which was released on their latest album. The song is called Angel.

I am a stay at home mom and write whenever I get the chance. I journaled my grief as I couldn’t breathe with the pain of my loss. I kept Morning Pages and rambled my pain onto paper. I needed to make life as normal for the two boys. Three years later it is easier as the sharp raw edge of pain has dulled, but I and my husband are learning to live with the sense of loss.

Please follow Eimear’s blog Words Plus More and listen to the song “Angel” written and performed in Ciara’s memory by Kodaline.

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