The Buckleys are stuck in a nightmare that every parent simply dreads
Almost two years ago to the day, my phone rang in the early evening and my heart went cold. The call was from Australia where I knew it to be about 4am.
The minute or so that it took for my daughter's boyfriend to explain why he was calling remains one of the longest minutes I have ever experienced. My world went silent and into black and white as I listened with every fibre of my being to what he was telling me. He began by saying: "She had a bit of an accident but she is fine."
What transpired was that she had been on a night out with girl friends. They took a taxi back to someone's house and as she exited the taxi, she tripped and fell. She was holding a bottle of wine, which she didn't let go of. The bottle shattered and a large shard of glass went through her hand, right through and out the other side. By the time I heard the story, they were back from the hospital where she had it removed under general aesthetic. She was OK and should recover with little or no lasting damage.
Relief swept over me as I came to terms with the fact that she was fine. But as her mother I wanted to make sure. A few days later, I arrived in Perth. For a week. To mind her. Rationality didn't come into it. I just wanted to be with her. See for myself the damage and the healing. And cook her favourite dinners.
My heart goes out to Marian Buckley. She and her husband John are now stuck in the kind of nightmare that I merely tasted very, very briefly. But I recognise their pain. As a mother, there is a primeval urge to nurture and care for our children, an urge which doesn't seem to go away no matter what age they are.
From the moment they are born, all we really want for our children is for them to be safe and happy. Karen Buckley, by all accounts, was happy; living away from home, studying at university in Glasgow and surrounded by friends.
But the horrible truth is that, once they become adults, we cannot ensure either our children's happiness or their safety. We can give them all the tools, all the advice, all the support but sometimes it's just not enough.
Sometimes our adult children may cross paths with evil and there is nothing a mother or father can have done to prevent it.
Whatever has happened to Karen could have happened to her in Ireland.
But for Marian and John, they have the added stress of being in an unfamiliar environment, trying to cope with a nightmare that is hard to comprehend. Along with which they find themselves thrust into the media spotlight, pleading for their precious girl's safe return and having to cope with the personal details of Karen's night out being made public.
All the while, I would imagine that when Marian closes her eyes she sees her girl, tucked up in her own bed in their family home in Cork - safe and sound.
She may well hold that vision in an effort to get through whatever the coming days (and please God, not weeks) have in store.