Posted by: Louise | April 5, 2010


I don’t have a theory on ghosts. I don’t do scary movies or scary anything really. When I think ‘ghosts’ I am thinking of ripples of life that linger after time has moved on, echoes that are still there long after the event has passed.

So here we are in a remote part of the west of Ireland. We have been coming here roughly once a year for the past number of years. A beautiful backside of nowhere with great endless gulps of fresh air and walks along sea shores far from any roads or other human beings.

We came here last June. We had planned our annual trip, with a friend and her daughter, my last hurrah before getting stuck into the nitty gritty of motherhood once again. And then Laura died and we needed to come. We needed the air. We needed the space. We needed to get away from the awful, overwhelming desolation that clung to us at home – “Mummy, why are you always talk-crying to Granny? Butterflies will make you happy. They have magic powers.”

And so we came: Three adults, four children and one teenage au pair in a two bedroomed blue house with a bed on the landing. And the sun shone. For one week we ate every meal outside (unheard of in Ireland in early June). eyeries butterflyWe went to the beach. We got sunburned. The kids swam in the sea. We went for walks. Our friend (Laura’s honorary god mother – the job was always going to have been hers) found a spot on the coast, a little grassy outcrop with butterflies flitting about, which became Laura’s spot – a place where we could sit and think of Laura – and we imagined her crawling about and playing with the butterflies.

It’s ten months later. It is unseasonably cold. We are wrapped up in layers of thermals and waterproofs and everywhere I look I see ghosts. I see us on the beach, the kids gamboling on the sand, me sitting, still swollen with pregnancy feeling Laura’s absence so palpably that surely it must be visible to all, a forcefield that distorts the light waves around me. I see us sitting in Laura’s spot (the route to it has now become Laura’s walk) soaking up the heat of the sun watching the butterflies in the gentle breeze, eyeries - ghostsbut now it is too cold to stop and Astro boy is disappearing goat like over the rocks into a crevice towards the sea and, if this is a pilgrimage, the call to parent the living is stronger than taking time to remember the dead and I’m off in his wake and leaving another ripple behind.

Everywhere we turn Laura is here with us. She isn’t. She so very very isn’t, but her presence and her absence are filling the great gulps of air we are breathing. And this is her place now. We have driven the length of the peninsula, wandered in and out of inlets, climbed hills, negotiated bogs, gathered wild flowers, wondered at the proliferation of butterflies, bringing her with us all the while and leaving a part of her here in the air we exhaled. And so in this return we see the ripples and the echoes we left behind last June.

Simultaneously a tragedy and a comfort. The ghosts of loss…….


  1. Utterly gripping Louise. Feels like such a privilege to track your thoughts as you are unwinding them here and to follow the thread of reflection that joins Laura to your everyday life.

  2. Thanks Claire. It is nice to feel accompanied on the journey.

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