And now it’s over. When they turn the key and step in, the house seems emptier. It was quiet before they left for Ireland, but now, if it was at all possible, it seems to have lost even more of its heartbeat. The clock ticks in the background — its tick hitting a false note of optimism, its tock emphasising the silence. They look at the door, and sob inside and wish that for just one more time, it would swing open and their bouncy happy daughter would come back in through it. Closure is sometimes seen as the end of a journey, but often it is just a mythical void. The pain in their chests that comes with every waking moment of the horrific realisation has not abated, as they thought it might. Now, alone together for the first time in weeks, they realise that often closure is the beginning of the journey and not an imagined end. Now, the hard work begins. The bit where the desire for justice has left them unfulfilled, the hole in their hearts just too large.
She was to them much more than a daughter. As the only child in the house, she grew up from being a bundle of joy to being a friend and a massive source of pride. When life came in around them, as it does us all, they revelled in the fact they had such a daughter, a young woman who, in a liberal continental way, just wanted to do something in life that would help others. Not for her the greed that we mistake for ambition in this country.
So they let her fly, spread her wings, but before she could take flight, she was cut down, their pride and joy, their hope for the future. And so they said they would make the journey for her, to battle the evil that had cut short her journey.
They packed, for the second most horrific flight they would ever take; and once they landed, they experienced the hospitality that their daughter expected, but this hospitality is masked by a massive sympathy, so they knew it was not a true hospitality. For that you need different circumstances, different sentiments. But they knew that. In their quiet moments, they told her that they would protect her memory and ensure that evil would not prosper at her expense. That her life was not in vain.
They came and stared into the eyes of the heartless monster who took away their pride and joy, their sunshine, their angel, the daughter who made the struggles of their life all worthwhile, their hope for the future, the child they had stayed awake with when she was ill, the child they fed and kept warm, whose smile lit up their hearts, who they loved more than life itself.
They stared into his eyes and hoped that, cornered like a rat, he would show remorse, and sorrow for what he had inflicted on her, on them, on the city, on the country, but instead he wriggled and bit back, with malicious fabrications that showed that even in death, he was capable of denying her the dignity that he had denied her in the last moments of life.
Now everyone has had their fill from the trough of sensation, has been sated at the court of horror, has passed on their sympathy. The papers have had their headlines, the angry have had the verdict they required. But it is of little comfort to them. Back home, far from where this horrible deed was created, they will grow old together, known as the couple who had lost their daughter. The girl, known only in her homeland’s media by her Christian name. The pride they expected by her development replaced by a pitiful sympathy from others. Already they look heartbroken, their physical appearance changed in the intervening period.
And for us all, it is a time when we will all hold our heads in shame, that such an horrific thing could happen to such an innocent being in a city such as ours.
Let the lessons of this saga be a guide to all those who uphold the law and protect us; those who determine who should or should not be freed. Let it be that when it becomes known again that someone capable of such evil walks among us, that every effort is made, as quickly as possible, to ensure that all threat is removed from the streets.
Maybe that was not done in this case.
There should never be another Manuela.
declan varley [email protected]