The sad reality of a dream shattered

This morning, as you read this, wherever you are in the world, a man is broken, inconsolable, shattered. He is a man around whom a maelstrom of controversy has erupted in the past 48 hours. A man who just a few days ago was unknown to many of us, but who has been thrust into the limelight by a personal tragedy, the horror of which we can only try to imagine.

Many miles away from the country he now calls home, Praveen Halappanavar experiences anger at what has happened, but this is nothing compared to the sadness that he feels for the loss of his beautiful, vivacious wife — a woman who contributed to her community, who was the driving force behind the colourful and joyous Diwali festival and who was the delight of his life.

Savita was a woman who loved children and who used her ease with them to pass on many aspects of her culture to the Irish children she encountered in Galway. And when she found out that she was to be a mother, she experienced joy unconfined — a joy that was shared by a couple devoted to one another.

She immediately gave up her work to concentrate on getting ready for the massive change in her life. Her parents came to Ireland to experience this joy that they both felt, even holding a sort of mini-baby shower before they returned, with the promise that they would be back for the birth in March of next year.

Plans were made for their life after the birth of their child and the couple were on top of the world. And then it all went wrong, the detail with which you are probably all well versed.

In just a few days time, Praveen will return from India to Galway, but it will be a journey in which his heart will feel heavier than the plane that carries him. Not a waking thought will be able to distract him from the immense sadness of it all. Thoughts will go from moment to moment as he makes that long trip into a reality that is very hard to bear.

He will have memories of the times he and his wife made that same journey and how each journey would have been interspersed with conversation about their plans for their life ahead in the west of Ireland. A live that involved starting a family and instilling in them the values they both exuded.

Now he will come back to a home that will be empty and he will face a life that will seem empty too. Their home is a shrine to the life they led and he will feel a great great loss. And it is here that their friends will be needed, to care for him, to help him adjust to this new reality, with reminders of his dear wife everywhere, her face on every newspaper, her medical history laid bare for all to see.

What happened to Savita should not happen to anyone else. People have expectations of the great institutions in their lifes, their work, their healthcare, their religion, their society, and among these expectations is the belief that we will all do the best we can for each other to ensure we are happy, healthy, and safe.

Above all of this will lie a large political typhoon, into which this decent family have been thrown. There are many to whom this tragedy is fodder for their beliefs, a case study to be learned from. But it is not just that. Savita should not be remembered as the face of a tragedy in a long running emotive social cause. She was a wife, a best friend, a daughter, a colleague. Let her memory be preserved with dignity.


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