Thursday 14 December 2017

There is no measure by which to calibrate a parent's desolation over a child's death

It takes a particular kind of psychological lack to be indifferent to the fear or fate of a child, writes Miriam O'Callaghan

15 of the 22 victims of the Manchester terror attack.
15 of the 22 victims of the Manchester terror attack.

Miriam O'Callaghan

Chances are, they left home to the usual interrogation, instruction: tickets, money, credit, battery? Stay alert, stick with the group, clock the emergency exits, don't move a muscle from the collection point, call or text if you need us, we'll be there.

Children, being tenderhearted, not yet brokenhearted, are strangers to our parental worries. A roll of the eyes, quick kiss, love you, gone. The final BE CAREFUL! is heard only by the cat eyeing the free spot on the sofa.

Since Christmas or their birthday, they have been waiting, counting. Crossing off the months, weeks, days, then finally, the hours to the night of their life. Their death. While parents calculated the risks in helping them grow up, they missed the significance of one number: 22. Palindromic, even, composite, deficient. 22 deaths inflicted by a 22-year-old in the 22nd hour of the 22nd day of May.

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