The Irish Homecoming: God bless the children - tragedy in Galway reminds us how precious our families are


And then there is little Saoirse Heffernan whose family live in Co. Kerry. Saoirse died from Batten’s Disease two years ago at the young age of five.

Her family is still coming to terms with her loss but it gets worse. Their only other child Liam, 3, also has the fatal disease. They are amazing people who are very much living each day in the present surrounded by their adorable son who, like any three-year-old, brings endless joy and unconditional love to their lives.

A friend of mine whom I won’t mention personally just suffered the devastating heartbreak of a miscarriage. It was her fourth and she doesn’t have any children.

She can’t cope with it at the moment. I pray time and counseling will give her what she needs to get through this.

And the list goes on. Everyone reading this knows someone affected by the loss of a child.

We empathize with their loved ones, we share in their grief, we are there for them as much as possible and when weeks pass by we resume our own normality.

We slowly begin to take things for granted again (after promising to never do so), we lose patience with our kids for the slightest of things and we forget how precious they are.

We forget that we don’t know what the future holds for any of us. We forget that life is short for some of our children; we just don’t know it yet.

I have a knot in my stomach writing this last line. It makes me sick to even think that I could lose any of my children, so I thank God every night for them and their health and I pray that they will remain that way until they are 80 years old and never have to suffer physical or mental pain, ever.

I’m not sure I would be strong enough to cope with such loss. It’s best not to even think about it.

I had planned to write an upbeat article this week. I wanted to share with you all the funny things our children say or do.

It wasn’t my week for humor I suppose. Maybe another time, but for today I ask all of you reading this with children, grandchildren, nieces or nephews to appreciate them, spend time with them and most of all love them as much as you can because we just never know the cards we will be dealt in the future.

Ciaran Staunton (Rory’s father) ended his eulogy about his beautiful son in a church in Queens back in April with the words, “Go home and hug your children.” Eanna’s mom, Aileen always ends her text messages to me by saying “hug those beautiful babies of yours.”