Eimear Lawlor, One Less Present to Wrap

25th August 1998

The pain is getting stronger. The nurse checks the baby’s heart.

The baby’s rhythmic heartbeat on the machine beside me soothes me, momentarily, the contraction intensifies that I lean forward into the pain.

“Are you OK? Are you sure you don’t want an epidural?”

“No,” I reply through clenched teeth. God the pain.

I take the tube from her and suck hard on the gas. I don’t know if it’s helping.

“I’ve changed my mind, I want one!” I screamed as the contractions became closer and more intense.

“What?  An epidural? No, I don’t think so, too far gone. Only a few more pushes and then we are there,” she smiled at me. “Here,” she handed me the tube again.

I sucked hard. Nothing. “It’s not working,” I said, “It’s N-O-T W-O-R-K-I-N-G,” I struggle to say through the pain.

The nurse lifts up the gas canister, “Oh God. Sorry, it’s empty, wait a minute.”

She replaces the empty canister handing me the tube, I grab it and suck hard, it is some relief, but the pain is getting more frequent and more intense.

“Hi, I’m Carmel.”

A lovely pretty face with a black bob smiles at me. She calms me. “I think you’ll be ready soon, one more push.”

I push, the pain is unbearable, but the only way to end it is to push again. With all my strength and will, I push.

“I see the head, good girl, Eimear, keep going. You’re doing great.”

John says something, but all I see is pain. I keep pushing, I want it to end. Finally, I feel a sense of relief flood out of me.

“It’s a girl. Say hello to your daughter.” A crown of brown hair. I take her. Another piece in the family jigsaw.

8th July 2016

Before I pull out of Lidl carpark, I look in the mirror and see her waving her arms frantically and running to the car. I stop. I push the button to open the passenger window.

I sigh, ‘‘Now what?”

She sticks her head inside the now open passenger window and breathing heavily she says, “Money. I need money, we are going to Pegasus after the concert.”

She smiles. I sigh and say, “For God’s sake, Ciara, don’t you have any of your own? And what do you mean after the concert?”

“We’re all going. Please.”

I know, and she knows, I’ll give it to her. I spoil her, and she knows it. I give the one thing I never had as a child – a mother’s love.

 11.00pm  Friday 8th July 2016

I’m in the car. John is driving. It’s dark. The motorway is nearly empty. We don’t talk; we can’t talk.

“Any news?” John asks.

“No,” I look at the blank screen of the phone.  It rings. I don’t recognise the number, but I know it’s a Meath number (046).


“Hello, this is Garda … from the traffic division. We have organised a police escort for you.”

I freeze, I don’t know what to think.

“Where are you now?”

I ask John and tell the guard.

“An escort. That doesn’t sound good,” I say.

His reassuring voice says, “We often provide this service in situations like this. Don’t worry.”

I’m afraid to think the worst.

Soon we are following flashing blue lights with our hazards on.

12.30am Saturday 9th July 2016

We follow the flashing lights to the entrance of the Emergency Department of Tallaght Hospital.

The scene is wrong. A paramedic is standing at the entrance waiting for us to get out of the car. He should be running over to us telling us to hurry, to follow him. He walks to meet us as we get out of the car, he says something to us. I don’t know what it is, but I follow him and John into a bare grey room with three or four plastic hardback chairs and a round table.

He is speaking, telling us to sit. He sits in front of us and leans forward, his hands are entwined.

“She is a very, very sick girl.”

I hear John say, “Do you mean she might die?”


He nods, “I’m really sorry, but she is very sick.”

He stands to leave and a tall woman in a white coat and man wearing blue enter the room.

They sit in front of us, and she says quietly and slow, “I’m really sorry, but Ciara has died.”

10pm Monday 12th December 2016

These are the very clear memories I have of Ciara. I have looked at the videos of her as a child and remember nothing. It’s like I gave birth to her yesterday then dropped her to the bus for the Kodaline concert in Marley Park. I never got to hug her before she left.

I miss her.

I miss her telling me that when she puts eyeshadow on me I have wrinkly eyelids.

I miss her laughing at me when I drop something in the supermarket.

I miss her telling me all her friends’ secrets that she swore to them that she would not tell me.

I miss going for walks with her when she quizzes me on what I did as a teenager. I always said I would tell her when she was older – now I can only speak to her, but I can’t see her except in my dreams every night.

This Christmas I have one less present to wrap. I don’t know how I will wrap any.

I didn’t know it was possible to cry so much every day – every hour. They may not always be visible tears.

It’s like someone has stuck a dagger into my heart and continually turns it.

I miss her.

I miss her.

I miss her.

Eimear Lawlor has a BSC in Biological Sciences and has been creative writing for some years. She completed an NUI Maynooth Creative Writing course in 2014 and has done many online courses in creative writing. She has just completed a CDP with the Education Board to teach creative writing in primary schools and is due to start in January.  

Eimear has just had her first short story published in an anthology by Hundred Years Publishing. She is writing a novel set in 1917. Her protagonist is a secretary for Sinn Féin in Harcourt St. After the formation of the Iris Free State, they continue to work for Eamon De Valera. 

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