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Found and Lost

The platinum blonde woman in the queue
Turned around
We recognized each other
Her black hair had grown blonde
My brunette hair had grown gray
Pleasantly surprised we hugged
Forty years since our schooldays.

There was much to catch up with
Our different paths in life
She was married with children/grandchildren
I made my career in America
This chance meeting was brief
So we planned to meet soon
For coffee and a proper chat.

Weeks later, a woman’s body was
Taken from the sea, my school friend
Gave up her life to the River Corrib
So sad, I’ll never hear her life story
We might have laughed, cried, giggled about school adventures
Shared recipes, knitting/crochet patterns
What was the musical score to her life, did she like jazz?

Would she have identified as an ‘orchid’ type
Needing extra care and support
With the ‘small stuff’ of life too
Was she less resilient than
A ‘dandelion’ personality type?
I would have listened with empathy and compassion
I’m left with the mystery of her life.

Safety ladders along the Corrib Riverbank, night watch, C.C.T.V.
Patrols, medical interventions, self-help groups
Arts and culture to relieve life’s stress
Stigma of mental illness erased
Too late for my school friend
Walking across O’Brien Bridge, remembering her, I pray
‘Lord leave everyone common sense and the use of reason’.

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