A LOT of words have been used to describe the deaths of four young women in a road accident outside Athy on Tuesday of last week. But there isn’t anything anyone can say or write which will help the parents, siblings, relatives and friends of those young people.
How could there be? Four young girls out with a friend enjoying themselves one minute and dead the next. It is a parent’s worst nightmare.
They had their whole lives in front of them, and now … nothing. Any death is difficult to comprehend, but there are extenuating circumstances for some – age, illness, lack of a quality of life which eases the pain for those left behind.
As a journalist, I have had to call to far too many homes to gather information on loved ones who have died. Road traffic accidents are by far the worst. There is no warning for the family, no getting ready for the inevitable. Just that dreaded knock on the door, and suddenly, your life is never the same again.
Unfortunately, the number of road deaths is on the increase again. We hear about numbers on a weekly basis, but because we have become so familiar with such statistics we have lost sight of the fact that these are real people.
If we ever needed a jolt back to reality, we certainly got it with this tragedy. For weeks and months to come, those who knew these young women will remember specific dates or events which would have a special meaning for the deceased. Sadly, with time, the number who will remember will diminish until it is confined to immediate family and friends.
At the cemetery Mass in Carlow each year, I look across at a particular grave where an elderly woman remembers her deceased husband and son. For years, her husband had stood beside her, but he died a while back. Her 18-year-old son was killed in a road traffic accident around this time of the year. Very few remember the event. I do, because this young man was in the same class as my older brother.
I think of all the living that both my brother and I have done in the intervening years and it gives me a sense of how much was lost on the day that young man died. Unfortunately, the same will apply to these young women.
Many years from now, when most of us have forgotten the names of these girls – and certainly the date when this tragedy took place – their parents, brothers and sisters will stand at a grave and wonder what might have been if this tragedy had not taken place.
We cannot undo the past, but we can make a difference to the future. If we, as motorists, can remember these girls – and the pain that has been caused as a result of their deaths – perhaps it will remind us to be more vigilant when we are on the roads. This, in turn, will ensure that other parents, siblings, relatives and friends do not have to endure what the survivors of those four young, vibrant women are enduring this week.