Twenty Years After Maura 

Up till then I never loved anyone as much as I loved my older sister Maura and then I wondered had it been a mistake to love so much. The pain of her absence was unbearable, and I honestly thought I wouldn’t survive. I thought too that I would never dance again. It was with her that I danced best, most joyfully. But I have survived and have loved again. I have danced, but never so joyfully as with her. 

The morning of July 28, 1999 I was in London on my way home from holidays. There was a message to phone my sister Rose. There was no answer. So, I phoned Maura. Her youngest son answered. I said, “can I speak to your Mum.” He said, “she’s dead!” She went to bed at the age of 46 and never woke up. That was the beginning of my worst nightmare. I didn’t just cry. I howled. Those who were with me then still speak of the sound of my grieving. The experience left us all reeling as a family, fragmented and nearly destroyed. 

She was my best friend, my sister and the link that held us together as siblings. It felt like God picked us up in His two hands, tossed us into the air, all of us landing in different and strange places. It was the loss of one whose soul was knitted to mine - a pain impossible to express. I loved her more than my own soul. These words of St. Gregory Nazianzen express something of the reality that we shared, and I am now immensely grateful for it: "We seemed to have a single soul Animating two bodies… We were in and with each other." 

She saw beauty everywhere, praised beauty and I wrote this poem about the last time we were together: 

Beauty of the Sky (In Memory of Maura} 

She leaned forward
From the back seat
To speak of the singular
Beauty of the sky
Her right hand resting
On my left shoulder
Our eyes meeting
In the mirror

For the last time

For the last time
We walked the Prom
And never said goodbye
Or anything significant
As a last saying
That I might cling to
As some kind of assurance

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