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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

Resurrection - An Intense Desire
I Ached For Her Touch

It Will Spring Again (in memory of Maura)

I went faithfully
Among bare trees
When life was cold
And hope obscure

And grief like frost embittered
In my taut and tightened heart

Dried out

Kneeling beside her grave
With my backside in the air
To kiss the damp and grey
Brown earth instead of her

And aching to touch
And aching for some kind
Softening warmth
To Spring

And it Sprang, so it did
For a while
And it will Spring again

Your Absence (In Memory of Maura)

White light shivers
On a black metallic sea

A mischievous wind
Chills the bone

And I like stone sink
Into the darkness

Of your absence

You are so absent
And I am so lost
Without you

My earnest desire

Is to expire
Retire with you

In the cool cloisters
Of a heavenly sun

To run
From all that is unbearable
run, run, run

Before the dawn
Breaks again.


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