|Sharon Cahill RIP (photo by Talita Marie Cahill)|
Sharon Cahill and I weren't sisters. Our mothers, Nuala and Carmel, were. They were the best of pals and they fell in and fell out down the years. The two sisters died in July 2016, within about thirty days of each other. Aunty Nuala hadn't been well when my mother died, so she never came to know my mother was gone. Sharon and I joked on FB Messenger that the first thing her mother would say when she saw my mother in Heaven would be: 'how did you get in here before me?' Now Sharon is with them in Heaven. I believe that Sharon is certainly in Heaven. She definitely got in there before me. That's not surprising. She was and is an angel.
Sharon and I were close and spent a lot of time together as children in Dublin. We even went to the same school for a while. When we were very young kids we had a slight problem. One of our younger uncles was getting married. The bride got to pick one of the groom's nieces to join the bridal party. She picked me. I was only four and Sharon was perhaps five. Sharon was very sad. She had begun to understand the importance of different functions. She wanted to be a bridesmaid. No, I wasn't a bridesmaid. I was like a little mascot, a flower girl. In fact, I did have a rather important job. Aunty Mary had a very long train behind her wedding dress. That was the fashion of the times. This was in the sixties. I'd seen my mother's wedding album and she wore a short wedding dress, but fashions change all the time. It was my job to hold up the bride's train as she floated down the aisle to get married. I was rather immature and I didn't understand what an honour it was to be a bridesmaid, even if it was a very junior type of bridesmaid. Sharon had begun to understand the significance of all these things and she was very sad to be overlooked. She scolded uncle Brian and told him that if he'd loved her, he'd have told aunty Mary to pick her. I had a great day at the wedding and felt like a little star, but looking back now, I can understand how sad poor Sharon must have been. It just couldn't be helped, but I wish she had been picked instead of me.
My father was one of those people who came alive in company. He was very entertaining, especially when kids were around. He used to bring us to visit Sharon's parents' house every week. A few years ago, I posted a photo of my father on his birthday, wearing his signature Elvis quiff. Sharon posted a comment about my daddy's hairstyle and added 'miss you uncle Eddie.' I was really touched. She threw four decades out of the way and let me see my dad again, as I saw him when I was a little girl.
Sharon was very sad when her parents separated owing to relationship problems. This happened to her around the time my father died. At dad's funeral, lots of people came up and hugged me and my siblings and told us how sorry they were. Sharon observed 'I lost my dad too. But no-one is even thinking about me.' There was no jealousy here. It was her honesty. It's hard to be only fourteen and to realise already that life can be so hard. A few decades later, Sharon's parents reconciled and her father died in peace. That must have been very consoling, but it didn't undo the fact that Sharon's dad was away for much of her young life.
Sharon got into a relationship and became a mother at quite a young age. My eldest is 25, her kids are around five to ten years older than that. Our paths didn't cross much after Sharon had the kids. But whenever we met, we were delighted. We'd give each other a big hug and reminisce about the good old days. She ended up as a single mother, facing life alone. But she was a strong, courageous woman. Her commitment to her kids never wavered. The fact that her marriage broke up wasn't her fault because she gave it 100 per cent commitment. The same commitment she gave to her kids. She was always by their side in good times and bad. She was a devoted grandmother too. I feel sorry about the great loss to her children and grandchildren.
When her kids grew up, Sharon went to college. I remember her telling me she was doing a course in the Women's Education, Research and Resource Centre (WERRC)founded by Ailbhe Smyth at UCD. Ailbhe Smyth is an amazing woman, one of the activists behind the recent Irish abortion referendum. While I admire Ailbhe Smyth's commitment to social causes, I totally disagree with her abortion activism, as I hold pro-life views. Still, it takes all kinds to make a world. Sharon and I enjoyed talking about the course she was doing. She was interested to know I'd met Ailbhe Smyth a few years earlier, while I was still in Ireland. I am glad Sharon had the opportunity to study and expand her horizons. She used to encourage me to live my own life and 'let go a little bit' regarding the children. She was so wise. She was a devoted parent, as I am. But she encouraged me to give the kids a bit of space and start building a life for myself.
Sharon bought a house and worked hard to pay the mortgage. She worked on security at Dublin airport, on various shifts. I'll always remember her gentleness, her kindness and a very dry sense of humour. I reached out to a few people I knew who knew her and they all say the same thing. She was a lovely person. It's true. She suffered from various health issues down the years. With all her problems, she never became hard. She was a warm, friendly and funny person who was loved by many people. Her daughter describes her as 'my rock'.
Just two days before this post was written, Sharon passed away suddenly. She was on a visit to her sister who lives in Turkey. She and her sister Pamela were very close. Every so often, she would visit Pamela in Turkey and enjoy catching up together. As I write, her family is working hard to bring her home to Dublin for her final farewell. Gone way too soon. Sharon was no more than 58. If there's one thing I've learned from this, it's that now is all we have. We have to live in the now and enjoy every moment we can, If I got the chance to say one thing to Sharon, I'd say 'well done, Cuz, you got your angel wings already'. You're going to be missed for a very long time to come. Fly high, Sharon, with the angels. Be happy forever. See you in a bit.....
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