Living on a prayer

Our Sixth Form (Senior year in high school equivalent in the US) anthem was Bon Jovi’s “Living On a Prayer”.  The lyric that really caught me was
        “Whoa, we’re half-way the-re
         Whoa-oh, living on a pray-er”
We were half-way through our exams, half-way to fulfilling our dreams of going to University, half-way to being grown ups – or so we thought!
Well, it’s June ,half-way through the year and half-ways there in so many ways.
Some of my past pupils, whom I’m still in contact with, are half-way through their GCSE exams.  Watching these wonderful people, our bright and shining future, struggle with the stress and trauma of the exams plummets me into spasms of pity and nostalgia.  I know they will do well – more than well – but as yet they don’t know that.  And it brings me back to those days of summer after my own exams – not quite as far back as “the summer of ‘69” but getting there!  Every mention of the results coming out in August caused a spike in the heart rate, yet the emotions were half fear, half hope.  Half-ways there….
I’m half-ways through my front garden conversion; half-ways through writing my novel…And I like the promise in the next lyric,

         “Take my hand – we’ll make it I swe-ar…”
At my age, I’d like to feel that I’m not yet half-ways through my life. But this is a thing we’ll never be able to gauge.  This week we had tragic news that my sister’s good friend died suddenly.   
Though I didn’t know Fionuala that well, my sister did, and I, in turn, loved listening to my sister’s stories of their antics – whether it was crazy stories about dressing my little sis up as a chicken, or sweet stories about springing surprise birthday cakes on one another.  They go back a long way, having studied together at night school.  Four girls in the class made friends.  All of them at different stages in life and from different back grounds – they had very little in common on the surface, other than the course they were studying, and a zest for life and laughter.  On the few occasions I had the happy privilege to share the craic with them, they kept me laughing with their stories till my sides hurt. Their strongest bond is their fabulous sense of humour and they’d all kept in touch for the last fifteen plus years.  They’ll miss Fionaula so much, and I grieve for their loss of a very special friend.
I worked for many years with Fionuala’s brother, but when I first started that job and knew no-one on the staff, Fionuala urged me to go and introduce myself to him.  Though I felt shy and a little stupid, I did, because it was Fionuala, and I guessed if she was anything to go by, her brother would be a good person to know and be friends with.  I was right.  My thoughts and prayers are with him and his family now.
My sister told me that she was looking out at her sweetpea today and it reminded her of her friend. 

            “The flowers are so bright and beautiful, they remind me of her,” she said over the phone to me from Ireland.  And I knew what she meant.  So, Fionuala, these are for you.  You are living in our prayers.