"If Dolours had a big fault, it was perhaps that she lived out too urgently the ideals to which so many others also purported to be dedicated.He described their friendship as a 40 year love affair, and I know she loved him and relied on him for so much. It has been a long few days. I am not even sure how many days it has been, to be honest. Dolours was found late Wednesday night and we were told of her death Thursday morning. I did not sleep that night. I find everything tinged with an incredible sadness.
"She was a liberator but never managed to liberate herself from those ideas. Sometimes we are imprisoned within ideals; sometimes in war atrocious things are done; sometimes hard things have to be done.
"Sometimes it is very difficult to handle the hard things that you felt compelled to do when you are soft-hearted at the core of your being. And Dolours was a soft-hearted person as well as a hard person in her politics."
- Eamonn McCann, who was a very close and great friend of Dolours, speaking at her graveside.
To think about both Marian and Dolours brings an unbearable sadness. More so because it should not be - the women I knew were vibrant women, fighters, feisty, strong; not broken by the burdens they shoulder. These burdens heaped upon them now are too much for any one person, for any family.
We called back to the wake house late in the evening upon return from Derry, and my husband and children joined me. My daughter, being older, has more memories of her "Aunty Dodo"; my son was her godson. Too little to remember very much, too young to understand, he was incredulous as he watched his daddy kiss Dolours goodbye, telling me in the car later in a stage whisper, "Daddy kissed a dead body!" with fascinated horror. My daughter is moved by it all. She sees how the loss of her friend is affecting her mother. She holds my hand and inquires how I am feeling, if I am ok, or asks "What's wrong". I squeeze her hand and tell her I am just sad, too sad for words. She tries to hold her own tears in, feeling the grief around her.
We call at friends' homes and I am grateful for the small kindnesses shown. The slagging and teasing and the ability to just talk about everything. The shared frustrated outrage. The love.
Eamonn McCann and Bernadette McAliskey spoke at her graveside. McCann was a very close friend of Dolours', someone she relied upon greatly. Bernadette has been to the fore in campaigning for Marian. I hope McCann's speech was recorded, or transcribed somewhere; he did her justice. Bernadette's message was frank, and simple: this conflict has been hard. We must embrace our friends, our comrades. Be a friend to each other. Take the time. She is right. We all hurt, we all struggle, we all bear burdens. Reaching out, being there, even for a half hour phone call, or just to say 'Hello - I am thinking of you' - don't let those we know, and maybe even don't know, are hurting, drown in the sorrows they cannot abide, and feel they cannot share.
I hugged Bernadette afterwards and introduced her to my daughter. "This is the woman you are named for," I wanted her to know. Take heed, sweetheart, you are part of a tradition of strong women. Learn from them, from Dolours, the strength of your convictions, and from Bernadette, compassion. From both, learn love.