I just needed a place to write my feelings and memories down. Read if you want, but don't feel like you have to :)
Eight years ago today. 16th July, 2005. I was 17 years old. I woke up super early, on a high. I'd been waiting for MONTHS for Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince to come out, and I'd reserved my copy from The Book Centre.
Also, I was hugely looking forward to my bestie, Tara, coming home from her holiday to Kusidasi, Turkey, the following day - I missed her; I hadn't seen her since June 29th, 2005. She'd brought me an M&S chocolate swiss roll, and promised that she'd bring a better birthday present for me from Turkey. We'd sat in the "good sitting room", ate mini packs of Starburst and White Buttons that were left over from my birthday, and started watching Bruce Almighty. Her mother came to get her, and we agreed to finish watching the movie when she got home from her holiday.
I got up that morning, got dressed and my Mum drove me into town. I can even remember the exact spot she parked the car; right by the bottle bank. When I got out of the car, it was 9.30 a.m. I ran down to the Book Centre with my little book ticket, eagerly handed it to the girl at the til, got my shiny, new hardback book that was literally the highlight of my year, and headed off back to the car. I started reading it as soon as my butt hit the seat, as mum drove away.
It was a really sunny day, I was wearing navy jeans and a long blue top that I had bought myself in Primark recently. I had a pale blue sunhat on as well.
We drove to the airport, where Mum dropped me off. The annual aerobatics competition was on, and I wanted to be right in the thick of it. I got there really early, so there wasn't much going on. There were a few fancy little planes outside but that was about it. A few of the usual Aero Club lads were about. I made myself a cup of tea in the little kitchen, and sat down with my book. I was so engrossed in it, that I didn't hear the rest of the lads talking about the explosion in Turkey, and how it was emerging that an Irish girl had been one of the victims.
After a couple of hours, things started getting exciting. There were loads of little aerobatic planes buzzing around. I got talking to one of the pilots, Al, who said that later on in the day, if I polished his Pitts Special aircraft, that he'd take me up in it and do some aerobatics. I was SO EXCITED.
I flew to Cork that day, with Paul. My flying was awful, I was unsettled, unfocussed and doing everything wrong. Making stupid mistakes that I never usually made. We did a touch and go in Cork, and on the way back, Paul got a text from my sister. He went unusually quiet - I didn't think much of it at the time.
Shortly after we landed, my mum arrived at the airport to get me. I was mad as hell. What about polishing the Pitts to get my aerobatic spin? But she was there, waiting, and there was nothing I could do. I got into the car with a face like thunder, and slammed the door. She was sighing the whole way home, and I thought it was because I was angry.
We arrived home anyway. As soon as I got into the kitchen I knew there was something wrong; the shopping Mum had done earlier was all over the floor, and table, not put away at all. I didn't know what was going on. Dad was standing in the kitchen, and he just looked at me, didn't say anything. Mum told me to go up to the living room.
I went up; my two sisters were sitting there; Sam on the couch, Diane on one of the chairs, with her sleeping baby Hana on her shoulder. Mum told me to sit down. I sat down. No one said anything, but I knew it was serious. Still, the lingering, awkward, unbroken silence. I just said "who is it". Knowing that it could only be a death. I thought it might have been my cat. It was Diane that spoke, first. "Tara has been killed in a bomb in Turkey". And my world collapsed. I burst into tears, and thought I was going to faint. I sat there, rocking back and forward, wailing. Hana woke up and joined in too.
I'm not sure how long I sat there, wailing. After a few minutes, we turned on the TV, and the news was on. Breaking news, Irish victim. 21 year old girl, they said. But she wasn't 21, she was 17, like me. She'd just finished school, and was away for a girly holiday with her twin friends.
Due to come home the following day, she'd gotten up early (a very rare occasion for Little T, she only loved her bed!) to go into the town to buy presents. She'd left the twins sleeping, recovering from their shenanigans the night before, and headed off alone. She'd gotten on the bus, the one that went to Ladies Beach, and she'd spent her last moments away from her friends, but I have no doubt, Tara being Tara, that before it happened, she'd made friends with everyone on that ill-fated journey.
I came down to the kitchen after some time. Our neighbours were there; they'd heard the news and had come up to the house to grieve with us. In shock too; Tara's mum minded their children, and were very close to her whole family. I tried to eat a bowl of cereal, but I don't think I managed to finish the whole bowl; eating while in hysterics doesn't quite work.
We went over to her house then; there were people gathered there. Family, friends; the parents of the girls she'd gone on holidays with were there too. We went into the sitting room. Looked at some family albums of photos of our angel. I can't remember how long we stayed there. Hours it seemed, but not long enough, I didn't want to leave but at the same time I wanted to get out of there and never go back.
The rest of the day is a haze...when we came home, I went to take my makeup off, but I'd cried so much there was none left, the streaks of mascara that had been there earlier were washed away in the sea of tears I'd cried all evening. I rang her phone at some point...it went straight to Voicemail...she didn't have a message, instead she had a clip from 50 Cent's "In Da Club". I don't know how many times I rang it, and listened to that clip, wishing it was her voice. Wishing that she'd answer, that there'd been a horrible mistake.
Summer in the countryside, the farmers have crops growing, and to keep the birds from eating them, they have a device that makes a really loud booming noise, like a gun I guess. It goes off at intervals, to scare away the birds. My dad being the gentleman that he is, always used to go up to his field at about 9 p.m. and turn his off, so it wouldn't be going all night. Unfortunately, some of the other farmers in our locality weren't quite so considerate of other people. That particular night, there was one left on all night, really near our house.
I dozed into a fitful sleep. Then BOOM. The crow-banger went off. It wove its way into my dreams, and in my mind, it was the bomb on the bus. I'd seen the scene of the explosion, and the broken, bloody, injured messes that were carried away from the scene by onlookers, on the news on TV earlier in the evening. In my mind I could see all of it, and the boom was when the bomb went off, taking the life of my amazing, bubbly, perfect in all her imperfections friend, Tara. I screamed and started crying again. My mum came over to me, and got into bed beside me, and just held me. I cried a lot, and didn't sleep much; the banging went on all night, every 5 minutes. I think I got asleep at about 5 in the morning.
The following day, I went back to the airport. Paul had told them all what had happened, and everyone was so good. The older men who I was dreading seeing as they wouldn't be the most sensitive of folks, hugged me and told me they were sorry for my loss, and that I was too young to have to deal with this. We listened to the news on the radio on the way there, and both my sister and I cried as we listened to them talk about the bomb, how there was a British lady killed as well, along with a Turkish couple and another Turkish person, on their way to work. I had the Jimmy Eat World Salt Sweat Sugar album playing in the car those days; Hear You Me became my song for Tara. "May Angels Lead You In". I still cannot hear that song without thinking of those horrendous days, and crying.
I flew to Shannon that day. My flying was better than it had been the day before. I was numb. Also, this was the first time I had got the new Harry Potter book and hadn't finished it in less than 24 hours. I read bits, here and there; my copy is tearstained to say the least. When we got back from Shannon, I went over to the airport to buy a drink. The staff there didn't know what had happened, but sympathised with me when I told them. Al took me aside when I got back to the aero club, and told me how sorry he was to hear my news.
Those two days are etched into my mind, in high definition I guess. They're never going anywhere, and I'm never going to forget the details, the pain, the anguish and the subsequent numbness that took most of 7 years to shake off.
I remember going to her house, when her body was brought home, to be at her coffin side. I was terrified about seeing the body, but at the same time thought it would help me realise it was real, that it was her, she was dead, and then I could start grieving properly. But when we were on the way into the house, her aunt said it was a closed coffin, as her body was so badly burnt. I remember walking into her house that day, and going into their good sitting room, where her coffin was. There were chairs there to sit on, to be in silence, and grieve. The undertakers had taken out her piercings: ears and belly button, and had cut some of her hair for her parents. Her dad cried so hard at that; he'd never known that she'd had her bellybutton pierced: she'd never told him.
The funeral was huge. There were Garda escorts on the roads, as there were so many people. I wrote a poem to read at the service. The priest told me to make it shorter, as there were government dignitaries attending, who wouldn't want to be delayed. I read the whole poem anyway. And I was allowed to place one of the gifts on her coffin: a red rose. Lindsay, one of the girls she was away with, read out a piece that she wrote about Tara out at the service as well. We locked ourselves into the bathroom at Tara's house the day before the funeral, and she read my poem, and I read her piece, and we cried and held each other in our torment.
The rest of that summer was a haze of sadness...I cried. A lot. And I was numb. So numb. It still seemed so unreal. I got a text from a boy I fancied, telling me how sorry he was to hear my news. I cried when I got that, because Tara had jokingly said she'd somehow make him text me, if it was the last thing she did. Well, she did, and it was. I kept forgetting it was real, and would go to text her, or call her, only to realise again, she's dead. I can't call her, or ask her opinion, or tell her a secret. She was gone, and nothing would bring her back. Forgetting, and then remembering again, just brought back that initial overwhelming feeling of drowning in my own emotions, and not being able to reach the surface to breathe, over and over again. I can't remember when it finally became real to me. It took a very long time.
I didn't go to the same school as her, and I was a year behind her. She was finished, but I still had a year left. When I went back to school in September, I felt even more different, more alienated, from my classmates than I had before. I couldn't be with them, or see them with their friends. I didn't want anyone else to replace Tara, and I didn't want to fill the hole inside me. I wanted to feel the pain, because I never wanted to forget her. I didn't go to school a lot that year. I couldn't cope. On the first day of term, the Headmaster had a few moments of silence in memory of the schoolgirl our town had lost.
My sister worked just down the road from school, and finished work at lunch time every day. More often than not, she'd come back to her car, to find me sitting outside it, waiting for her to take me home; that was on the days where I'd managed to drag myself out of bed to go to school at all. One of those days that I escaped from school to go home with Diane, I sat outside her car from about 11 in the morning. It was January 16th, 2006. Tara's sixth month anniversary. I'd been sitting in Irish class, with the rest of my classmates, waiting for the teacher to arrive; he was late, as usual. The rest of my classmates were discussing post-leaving-cert holidays. One student suggested Turkey, to which another replied, laughing, "Eh no thanks, I don't want to come home in a body bag". I stumbled out of the room, in tears, unable to breathe. I was greeted at the door by another fellow classmate, who made an impatient noise and said "what's wrong with you now?" I couldn't catch my breath, or see straight. I stumbled off as fast as I could. One girl, Claire, stopped me, sat me down, skipping Irish class herself to do so, and calmed me down. After that, I left, and sat outside Diane's car, waiting, crying, crying, waiting. Most days were a bit like that; teachers hesitantly asking me, if everything was alright, and me, lying back to them, "yes, everything's fine. I'm fine."
I dream about her still...and it's horrible. It feels like...I find her in my dreams, only to lose her all over again. The last dream I had was that she hadn't been killed, it was someone else in her coffin...that she'd been held hostage by the bombers in Turkey, and that they'd finally released her. And that she came home, but was...different. A shell of the person she once was. But we had her home, and we were going to fix her, make her better, because she was alive, and home with her family and friends, and that was all that mattered. We wanted to do all the things that she'd missed with her, like her Debs (Prom). So we got our dresses, and went together. We ate and drank, and danced the night away, and it was great, because she was alive, and with us, and our suffering was over. But then, a wall fell on her, and crushed her. Her date ran to her side, went to take her pulse, then looked up at us...and ran his hand over her eyes, to close them. I woke up then, and cried, and cried and cried. I'd got my angel back, and had her taken away all over again.
Everything that I'm happy about in life, is always tinged with sadness, that I can't share it with Tara. That she won't be there by my side when I get married, and never got the chance to meet my future husband. That she won't be at my hen party. That I never got to go on a night out with her. Or on a road trip with her.
I still think about her every day, and still miss her terribly. I still have this huge hole inside me, that can never be filled, because there is nothing that CAN fill it. But the edges aren't so raw and painful anymore. I just wish, especially today, that I could hug her, and hold her, and chat to her, and thank her for always being there.
I never did finish watching Bruce Almighty, and I don't think I ever will. I did finish Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince though. And when I went to the cinema that November, to see Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the first Harry Potter film I saw without her, both my sister Sam and I cried so hard at Dumbledore's memorial description of Cedric Diggory after he died, because all the things that were said about Cedric, as a person, and how you have to be stronger than the evil bodies that kill people, were all things that were spoken of my angel, Tara. Miss you Little T, wish you were still here. Xxx.