When I started this podcast last year, it was an exploration of my own grief, I had lost my mom, my best friend, and I couldn't imagine my life without her.
I suddenly had all these feelings of sadness, anger, confusion and guilt. I needed to understand them.
So I turned to my friends and people I knew who had been through a similar experience. It was eye opening. We cried, we laughed. We processed. That podcast helped more people than I could have imagined. I've been inundated with messages and connected with hundreds of people who have lost loved ones and realised their experiences needed to be shared. There are still stories that need to be told this season on Death Becomes Them. I meet people who have lost siblings, spouses, parents and children.
Though the experiences differ, one thing remains consistent. Talking about it is therapy. Today's chat has been one of the toughest so far. Eileen Loughlin experienced the sudden and tragic passing of our daughter Annabelle two years ago after an accident in the home. It's every parent's worst nightmare. Throughout the course of our chat, she opens up about how the accident has changed her family and how they ensure Annabel's memory lives on. Eileen starts our conversation about finding the courage to sit down and do this podcast with me.
I think, though, there is a time for everything, and when the timing is right, it will happen. And even the day that you messaged me to ask was a particular important day in our kind of journey roundabout. And for me, I was like, there's a reason that message came through on that day.
And that day that would give me goose pimples. Yeah, yeah. So like, you know, and it was someone that said to me, because then, like, I, I talk a lot to and obviously I couldn't just make a decision by myself during and during my friends, I think. And and someone said to me, well, I mean, it's almost two years since Annabel died. So it's OK to to talk about. Yeah. Like, yeah.
And I think, oh my God, it is almost two years in some ways. It just does not feel like this were two years as well. Yeah. Twenty eighteen. How funny.
Yeah. Yeah. So Annabel was November twenty eighteen and was February 28.
Yeah. And it's funny kind of those few months I remember a person reached out to me, her daughter had drowned that summer and I felt like oh my God. Like she passed in July. This woman has all the answers, like she's months into her grief and but like looking at it now, like no one ever has any answer. No, what I just thought she was so far ahead of me in her journey when she wasn't really like it.
She was still in the throes of that those early twenties, because you could be I could be in a certain stage.
And I discovered that from the last series, I could be in a certain stage two years in. And then someone else is ten years. And I've not even thought about what I'm thinking about two years in because it's so personal. And I was saying to everyone, if you're good, if we could take a tablet, someone said to me after we lost Mum and after you here as a tablet and you can take this and it will just sort you right out, I would have taken it or if there was medicine or a potion, but there is nothing.
And I found myself in something I do is I used to put immense pressure on myself saying everything's fine all even about.
I was like, OK, I'm going to go on the podcast and Brian and say, how is your journey been? I'm a grand gesture two years after flying by. Yeah, it's been fine. Yeah.
And of course I know, but really started. That was really quick. Like a really I to think back and be like oh my God. Like I can't remember the last two years. I genuinely was like, I can't remember what we've been through because you just, you just focus on getting through each day. Yeah. I would say and you rarely look back to think, well what was last month like, you know, you either focus on getting through each day or like that with the two boys and you're just focusing on like, what's next.
And especially that first year because it's all the first and it's just OK, we got the first Christmas, her first birthday and have Christmas would've been quite soon after our Christmas was. So that was November and like things like I had the matching Christmas pyjamas, but I'm not normally that organized. Like this was 2nd of November. But I had them. I had like, so much prepared. But our Christmas was always going to be different because my little sister Granya was getting married in a straight excuse in Australia.
So we myself and my older ladson and we're always going and ended the two younger ones. We're going to stay at home since Stephen's Day. So obviously, Annabel died and then my sister came home from Australia. My brother came home from Taiwan. I have. So there's six in my family.
There's nine Ananda's big Irish family. Yeah. Yeah. Good big family. So like. Yeah, like. A funeral in itself was humongous Bush, yes, so our first Christmas, a bit of me is grateful that it was always going to be a different Christmas because ENDA would tell you, I love Christmas, I'm all about it. And it was great. We did Christmas Day. All my family were actually in Australia, so we spent a lot of Christmas.
David and his family Stephen's morning, I just went and when I looked back, I was like, oh my God.
Like, how did I go to Australia two months after my daughter?
But again, you just do it because it was for her. It was her.
Did you feel, though, at any point that if you about going that people would have criticized you or people would have looked at you differently for doing that?
Erm, I did. You know, I think people who have been through grief have an understanding. They're like do whatever you need to do to do whatever feels right for you. And that's nothing against like for myself. And, and we are so fortunate. Both sets of our parents are still alive. All our brothers and sisters are well and healthy, like we've lost some aunties and uncles perhaps from old age or grandparents, which is kind of inevitable as well.
Yeah, yeah. Like when I think back, my granny died and I thought she was ancient. She wasn't. She was in her 60s. And now we think, like, how did my mother do that? Bush you know, at the time I was like scran.
She was really old, but she wasn't.
Yeah, but we in that sense, this is our first experience of grief. And you just think she's like, God landed us in the deep end, like, could you not started? It's like, yeah, I know what you mean.
Like it really. Yeah.
Like I say, it just threw me in the deep end when, you know, I've had friends, sorry, I've lost parents before me and you would go to sympathize with them and you would say, you know, how are you. And you do well and then you kind of walk away and you go, I don't know what they're feeling. And then having gone through it myself, I go, fuck, they were feeling that. Yeah, it's so strange.
So like whereas in your position I can imagine and I don't have, you know, any children yet, we've not been blessed yet. But I can imagine if you see that or read about that, you automatically think, well that's not going to happen to me. I just don't think I thought about it.
I'd be very I don't really watch the news or listen to, like, sad stories. I just can't I could never take it in. I can't comprehend, like, the awfulness that goes on. So I would never really maybe that's very selfish.
Boyish. Yeah. And it's not that I ever thought it wouldn't happen to me, but I just didn't think about it. And when it did happen, I was never like, why me? It's like, well, why not me? I'm no different. We're no different to anyone else.
Well, for you to think that because I remember I was thinking, why me?
You know, why else it's not funny how we both think. Yeah.
Why was it you have you always been I don't say positives the wrong way, but have you always thought what you were just saying that what made you think. Well of course. Why not me.
You know, I don't know. I suppose like. Yeah, I would try having an optimistic outlook on life. Yeah, and this is the thing like you read things like, oh, I learned so much and it's made me appreciate it, but I really feel like no, like I did not need to learn these lessons. I already knew, like, how important family was. I already knew, like to be grateful and to live in the moment.
I already knew that stuff. I was like, I didn't need to learn it.
Bush. It makes me look back and think like thanks be to God, like I did stuff with the kids, we went places we I, I'm not into clean. And so maybe it was just an excuse. Like I going to be present with the children and let the house fall into rock and roll so ruins, you know, like but I sat in the couch and we played dolls and we did that and the kitchen could be upside down. So I don't like it.
Strange. I have no regrets. And another big thing, I always thought, like, heaven forbid something would happen. You'd be like, oh my God, I shouldn't have spent that night so it would end or oh my God, I shouldn't have like spent that hour in the nail salon when I could have been with the kids. But I actually I'm so relieved I have no guilt because I feel like I spent so much time with the kids.
And when I wasn't with them, they got to know so many other people, like, they have such good relationships with their grandparents, their aunties, their uncles, their friends, like, you know, and if I had kind of kept them to myself, they wouldn't have known these people. No one, Annabell would have known all these people or they wouldn't have known her a number to like. It goes to show like when we're grieving and when the boys are like Greven, you need those people to help you through.
And thankfully, like, the boys have me and they also have their grandparents, their aunts, uncles, their cousins, their community like. Yeah. So I suppose I don't know where that started. I'm gone on a complete tangent.
I think I like that and I like that would sit down with, you know, chatting on a podcast. It's almost like you're catching up with a friend. I'm like, well, you can ask one question and then you can feel free.
It kind of takes you in all sorts of places. Yeah. Talking about Annabell, you had called her Miss Independent. Yeah. Why? Because she was so young. Why call her Miss Independent I suppose.
Annabell come after the two boys. So there's Senin and then T.J. and then Annabell and she just whatever they did she was going to do and like it didn't matter that she was the youngest or like she would honestly sit in the back of the car and make up a story just to have something to say. Like the boys.
Like I was at school and I did that and she was like, and I did this, too. And you're like, no, about you were with me all day. And she's like, I don't care. I'm putting in my stuff. And she's going to get one up on the boys. Oh, my God. Yeah, definitely. And she just like whether it was put on her wellies, whether it was play moggy, whether it was like we'd go down to the pitch and she had these it was T.J. and T.J. is great.
Like he never minded his little sister tagging along, like he would tend to be the quieter kind of middle child.
Yeah. Whereas she was brave. She just like step in and be like, I want to play. Right. And he kind of come after her. So she had no fear.
She had no fear. Like, yeah.
What was the age difference though? Senate is the eldest son. He's almost sixteen. Right. Wow. Sixteen. My goodness. Oh my God.
Knew you were a child. I leave a child. I keep going. I know. And then.
So then there was a gap of eight years. Yeah. And then T.J.. T.J., yeah. So T.J. was five and I was three and a half. Went on about eight. So there were they were very close initially.
Dedapper So you had two boys and then on your third pregnancy did you know you were having a little girl. Did you want to have a little girl.
I knew. I told no. Well I knew I told nobody, not even my sister who knows everything. And because I really wanted a girl and it was done after two and I was like, we're going to we get a girl get back out and she's cracking the whip.
So, like, deep down, I like I have three sisters and we just get on so good. I really wanted a girl like. I know. Yes. If like, I wanted a healthy baby, obviously. Yes. But that's why I had to find out if it was a girl, because I was like, I don't want a boy to come out. And he'd be like, oh yeah, yeah. But I didn't want my first emotion to be disappointment like which is all.
So be honest.
I really like I just had to find out. And she was a girl and I was so happy because and decided family like obviously nine kids are so much I think there's like fifteen or sixteen boys in a row now.
So each, each pregnancy was like it's going to be the girls kind of felt like special, very special.
I arrived with a girl but like Ananova lobbed on her boy cousins like yeah. She just obviously because they adored her too and her aunties and both sides like she was just for a little girl.
She was so adored and she was I do not like maybe it's just me being a mom, maybe like everyone you are, but the kind to do. Yeah. Like at her funeral a woman came up to me like on about three and a half four and she was like, I don't know you. I never met you, but I knew Ana.
I'm like, really. So she was like the coffee one day. Hello. Hello. What's going on here?
She was like, we went to playgroup. So Annabelle's mind, you would bring her into playgroup and I. I think, oh, my God, that's bizarre, like three and a half and she knew people I didn't know yet, you know, that probably speaks to over personality and maybe she was a people person and maybe people were drawn to her as she was. She was a real like when she walked in a room.
She wanted to be as she was like, I have arrived a little star, I think. And she reminds me of someone I know.
But she she really was. And she had no fear. And she you know, we'd go into Cusack Park, the local Joe Pitch, and she would just add cleverness about her. She'd come up and I always bring a bag of like sweets and drinks and bags of crisps and anything to keep them quiet for an hour.
And that's a real mommy. My sisters, through the exhibit like six sisters, but eight niece and nephews and my sisters constantly do that and sometimes even into the sentiment.
I'm like, you have to buy the food. I'm not putting it in the like, shut up. I've got three kids.
Yeah. Do you know how much that popcorn. Exactly. And then the Doritos.
Yeah, but yeah, she was Clarabridge come up and she'd be like, mommy, give me a packet of sweets and she'd go and she'd find a little group of girls and she'd start offering them sweets and suddenly they're best buds and they're running around like she bribed them.
Yeah it works. And I just like yeah she did.
When you, you know, think back to November 2018 now, you know, almost two years. Has the feeling changed at all or is it still that initial.
It's not the I torc two years on like I was, I was probably deluded thinking two years on it we all so much easier everyone hopes than all getting easier and easier.
But I'm like actually hasn't really like I do think what did I think about in my head before this, because I think any spare moment I have, it's automatically like on a better life without a or the boys and Anabella. Yeah. You know, it's it's like what, like what consumed my thoughts before all this happened.
I know it's amazing what I think grief it's amazing what grief makes you think and it's amazing how grief makes you feel. You know, the boys. How do you explain that to to young children? Because don't forget, you still have to play mommy. You still have to be strong. They still need to get a bath to get food, to get dressed, to do stuff.
How do you then play mom to two other children you love when you and and your family are going through the most horrendous time ever?
When I think me and I and I don't know where it happened, but somewhere early on in the line were like, OK, this is the boys one childhood and childhood. It's so it's so short and precious. Yeah.
And we kind of decided, look, we do not want our boys to look back and be like, oh, we had such a sad house. We grew up in such sadness. Like Mommy was always sad or Daddy was sad or we said, like, we want them to have a happy childhood. That's something really sad happened. And, you know, and to keep. You know that it's not all doom and gloom, and we also kind of really felt like, you know, monkey see, monkey do there's no point saying to the boys, go and meet your friends and go and do nice things and we'll sit at home on the couch and cry.
Yeah, they really saw from Dadar, like every morning there wasn't a single morning I can say this hand on heart that we lay in bed and said, we're not getting up today, we're just not doing it. We'll get granny or no, we got up every morning like normal, got them their lunch, did their normal things, like routine is so important, you know, drop them to school, did all that. We met our friends.
I went for coffee. And again, someone else might be like, oh, my God, how would she leave the house and go for coffee? But it's what helped me. I was a lot better off going to a coffee shop than going back home to an empty house by myself to Annabel's room. So like the boys saw us continuing to live life and we just want to lead by example.
Well, you certainly were. But I mean, the fact you can say that I mean, do you think Annabel in some way gave you both the courage to do that, to get up every day? And basically it's a fight. Yeah. Do you think she somehow gave you the encouragement?
Yeah, like, I definitely and you see, I know everyone has their own thoughts and beliefs and things like that, but I definitely feel someone's spirit stays with you. Like, I feel like there's energy and it doesn't leave, like she is still with us. But she was such a strong little girl.
And my big thing as well is like Annabel died so suddenly, like Friday morning. She was there happy as Larry one.
Ten to three Friday afternoon she was gone. You know, I think she didn't get the next day we do. Yeah.
And like I know it sounds cliche like every day counts, but it was like we get to wake up. So what's the point in us spending? The day is sad and lonely. Yes, there will be moments in the day. We're not living, you know, in a deluded mind.
We are sad. We are hurting Bush.
Life is not going to be any easier if we stay at home in bed and feel miserable, whereas if we get out and do the things that we enjoy, the things that make us happy, spend time with the people we care about. Your friends, our family, play Herrlein, go to Penny's shop and I do those things.
I go for a drink now. I feel bad. No, but we like I honestly like Sunday evening we go for a drink with the sister and brother in law and like we still fairly soon after we did that.
And I'm sure there's people thinking, oh my God, but that was therapy to us those Sunday evenings. And we could sit there, cry and laugh and you name it that doing what you wanted to do.
You know, like, I just think life is hard enough. Why make it only harder? And that's what I do wonder about people wearing black. Are people feeling that? I think, like, you have to make a decision to give yourself that permission to laugh and smile and be happy and not care if someone sees you laugh, because guess what? They don't see you in all the tears in bed. You know, I just find what you're saying to me is so inspiring.
And I'm not in my head with everything you're saying, because that's how I coped with my situation was I knew my mom for thirty nine years. You know, I knew what she wanted from all of us. And like I was supposed to I turned 40 the year we lost mom and I was debating not going to Vegas. And my sisters were like, get your arse on that plane, man, watching you and instr stories and on Snapchat.
And I wanted to live my life, but I now live my life in it in a way that I, I think my mom would want me to live my life living an honest, true away, honoring them by living by making the most of it by, you know, like that summer we organized Annabel's All Stars and my husband plays Harlen and like, it was fantastic and it was something to focus on. And it included the two boys and the community.
And it's what got us through that first summer because what else would we have done?
Yeah, I mean, there's some dark days and others that were graphic. And, you know, I even questioned wanting to go and see my mom or join my mom. I know it's stupid.
She said, oh, my gosh, I always, like, worried about people saying, oh, like, I'm going with her one day when I stop telling a grieving mother that, yeah, I know, but it's like you try and you're trying to get your head around something that you can't understand.
And even at school, you're not your religion at school and everyone goes to heaven, but you're not told what happens after that. So no one tells you what way to act. We're all just doing the best we can. It's a fight. And I just want to get out of bed. And one day I brush my teeth and I got out, have a shower and brush my teeth. Then, you know, I remember I had no appetite and then I try and eat, my mom used to always say that it was inevitable that we were all going to lose parents.
And, you know, I've six or seven of us and my mom would say that the worst thing in life would be to lose a child.
I feel I was very lucky. The day of Annabel's funeral, I got to stand up on the altar and speak about her and tell people, please, like if there is one thing you do for me, talk about or say our name.
Tell your children like she exists that she hasn't disappeared. She's still my aunt. But if she was here, we'd be talking about her. I know she's in heaven, but like, it's still the boy's sister. Yeah, it is so lovely to hear the boys mention or do they talk about her a lot? T.J., definitely. Like we have a teenage boy. Yeah. So how much they talk.
I know. Yeah, exactly. No, I know what you mean.
You know, so very different. Very different in general. I mean, Enderbury different with our grief end, A.J., I guess a lot of comfort from the grave. I, I like going to the grave. It's a lovely place. It's a lovely graveyard. If that is not a weird thing to say. But it is the view and it's.
Well, it I know that's very random, but like, you know, and we like, you know, the boys now, it's normal conversation.
We haven't chosen our headstone yet, but for dinner the other week, we're like, so what can a headstone do you think about it? Like in you're like, I can't believe this is the conversation we have to have with these boys, but I think you're better including them. Like, this is their life. And it's it's not nice that it's part of it, but it is what it is like. You just have to, you know, and it's I feel like it's always been important that to feel okay to talk to us about her and like they are good.
And yeah, T.J. would mention to her a good bit and just at different times, I can't even think off the top of my head. But I know, like, he's been doing cookouts this week and he was chatting to one of his friends about God, so and so, like Mr. Minibars, all stars, he couldn't believe he didn't make these are like little seven year olds like like old men chatting away. And he was telling them all the things that happened in the day and his sister, the way she used to hold her.
And, you know, it's just so lovely that he can just mention her and then move on yesterday's conversation. It's normal. Yes.
That he can manage it. Because I can imagine as a parent, you're worried about how they react with grief and do they rebelo will it affect, I think what you've done again, the right thing is being very honest with you. Yeah. Yeah.
You know, and kind of including them in the grief that we're all going through it together and they're not afraid to talk about her in case it upsets you.
Yeah. Because that could trigger something for you also. Yeah.
You know, and so they have seen us cry plenty and I think we're very open as I like will never accept and doesn't like the graveyard as such will never force them. There's been the occasion, like cemetery devotions, things like that that we say come on and he plays and like that, you know, but if we just popped in, it's OK. We don't mind if he stays in the jeep and that's fine by us, like I think.
And like I say, it gets great comfort. I just find like that's where I know her little body is and I just don't like that.
Yeah, but it's different things for different people.
And what whatever works for whoever, it's fine.
You know, I don't like the graveyard. Yeah. I've never liked the graveyard. And it was only till I recorded the forces and then we done the last episode and it went out. I went to the grave and it was the first time and that was only this year. It was the first time maybe in two years I went and kind of had a conversation. Yeah. Because I fully believed that the person that was in the coffin in my mind resembled my mom.
I didn't think it was my mom. And I remember him saying, you know, and I was so distant from it. And remember, there's a picture of my mom. I know. Or that's my mom. This person isn't. And it was something I was straight away. I went with that that that's just not mom. And I'd rather talk to mom by looking at a picture of her or when I'm out on walking around or when I'm somewhere and having a moment, I don't feel I need to go to the grave, but also maybe by going to the grave.
It's a realization.
Yeah. That what this is where she is and maybe I'm trying to protect myself from that.
So it's funny when you say that I can kind of agree with you. Yeah. It's not that my son, my sister's love going to the grave and they have great conversations and they really enjoy it.
And I'm like, well, that's just not even like, how long should I stand here? Yes, it's OK. Yeah. And I sometimes I be like, should I pretend I'm talking about what I'm really wondering I'm going to wear tonight when I go out.
That's because I didn't know what to say to to play a song and be like I have my one song and I'm like, OK, this song is over. Yeah. I'm like, OK, go home and talk to you at home.
In her bedroom is where I feel closest and we got a gorgeous chair. The door is always wide open to cross from our bathroom. So when people come to visit, it's not that the spending ages in the bathroom, the kind of tip into your bedroom to look through pictures, all her bits and bobs are there.
Have you left it? We left her room, yeah. Other than bits have been added to us. That's, you know, her bed is there. We got to lay her out on her actual bed, not inside the coffin, OK, but on her bed. And like I just we maintained and the grandparents and the two boys were in the bedroom for. Her removal and people come in and I just I wanted people to say good bye to her like this the last time they were going to see her.
And I just it was so important. I didn't feel like even though they were there for me and I was like, no, you're here for and about say goodbye to her. You know, that's how I felt.
And like for us, like, I've always, regardless of who died, I'm like, it's a celebration of your life.
Like, you know, I was just three and a half years. Just seems like a very short life.
But I still felt like this was our last celebration for Anna, but it was going to be her communion or confirmation.
Her wedding ring, the 18th rolled into one.
The death of a parent is the the loss of a past, whereas the death of the child is a loss of the future. You're constantly thinking like, oh, I'm missing this or not that I am, that she is like she doesn't get to experience it. But like, you know, when you tell things to console yourself, like, oh, my God, three and a half. Annabel honestly did not have she didn't know what side was like.
She actually didn't. I remember her bringing home the were doing emotions and Playskool this book and it was sad.
And she was like, what is this? You know, she got angry. She got she got angry. She took after her.
I was going to say after and you know, she she got them, but she honestly, like three and a half. It is such a lovely age at the same time, like, she didn't know that, you know, you get further on and you want to be like she just assumed everyone loved her. Like she walked in the door and she had her nice clothes.
And, you know, it's it's all great. There's almost an innocence. But like, she had great speech, you see, and you could yap away like she came for coffee with me a lot like. And taffy and hot chocolate. Yeah. She come for a toughie and like take a fireman would end or working or whatever, but like we'd have great conversations. And I actually remember was it maybe either the day before she died, I get my eyebrows done or my rainbows.
She called them and like God love her, she was snow white, like blonde hair. She was going to have fun getting her rainbows.
I felt like we were having a chat.
She watched this cartoon vamp, Marina and Van Marina, November, you know, November.
Yeah. And so she was like, Van Perena can stay by herself.
And I was like thumbprint as a child. And she's like, Yeah, but I want to stay by myself. I was like, you're a bit little like, would you not be afraid on your own? She's like, No, Mommy, I wouldn't be afraid. And that conversation stuck with me. I felt like, is she telling me?
Like, did she know especially the day before? I was I assure you, it's not weird.
Like she really and there were so many little things I can again, I heard you mention about your mother, like in the last year, the things that fitted in, the things I renewed the boy's passport, but I missed a forum for Annabel, didn't get to renew it.
I'd been in Rome and I decided to get Annabel about these gorgeous pink rosary beads for her communion, which is like years away. And then the morning of her funeral, it's like, oh, my God, I have pink rosary beads for Annabel and I, such a job to find them. But like she was, she had to have her pink rosary beads. And I was like like there was so many things that you're like, wow, like that's a lot isn't it.
Like and that's only half sports and you know, telling you she was alone.
The rosary beads. It's because we question your question. We questioned you.
What mom was was her soul preparing her and she didn't know there was certain stuff that I had said. Yeah. How do you process that?
Because then looking back on it, you realize it sometimes I wonder.
I'm like. You know, are we here? Is that the amount of time that she was meant to be here? Yeah, and sometimes I'm like, yeah, maybe. And then other times I'm like, oh, my God, that's ridiculous. Keep yourself on. She should be here forever and ever.
Yeah. You know, like I wish. And Jesus, you give anything in the world to just have her. But I see what I do wonder, is it just your body's way of kind of trying to console yourself or trying to get your head around it?
Yeah, maybe it's part of your brain or maybe it's something that kicks in to protect you so you just don't lose it. Yeah.
Tries to keep you on the straight and narrow. When you talk about Annabell, I don't think you're talking about a little girl. That was three and a half. Yeah. It's so funny.
I think you're talking about I'm much maybe not an adult, but someone that is much older than three and a half. You obviously crammed so much into the fact that you can say hand on heart and I fully believe you, but she never understood side is such a credit to you, an end to the fact that as parents that you know, for all of your children, but that she was happy every day of her life.
Yeah, I do this probably like enjoy it better eat something she didn't want, but she she really had a genuinely happy childhood. And like I said, I, I like to do stuff with kids like I have pictures were Mbete Stone Beach and she still in her pajamas. It was obviously I come on sonas. Let's help in the jeep. We'll go and have a nice day. And we had I didn't have a book. It's I think I had flowerpots jobs and we were building castles and once she had her dolls she she like dolls she loved.
And you sit there and you just chat like and she'd be the mommy and her friends are friends when and she always are like I penname was worried.
I was like she always has a phone in her hand like she sees you and that she died with the Tempah lobby, with the phone and just pointing forward like she would have been all over Instagram.
Oh my God. This is the thing. She was always in the background of my pictures and even like one time she got her frozen dress and she wanted to do like, I got it in.
Penny said, Oh, my gosh, that's so funny. At that age. Yeah. Did she watch YouTube? Like, was she aware of bits and pieces? Yeah.
It's not a kind of Patrina and few cartoons and things like that. Yeah. Yeah. The day before.
And you're out for your toffy and and she had said to you that she didn't mind being alone to that resonate with you at the time or do you think it was just a fleeting conversation with your daughter?
I just thought it was a conversation. Yeah. Yeah. Operator Like she was great company like it. You just have great chats. They always just put it down to the fact you had two older brothers, right. That she kinda she wasn't baby.
Ten to three. Yeah. It's something you will always remember and. Yeah.
And, and it's for me it was be the Friday of mid-term break because like I'm a teacher and midterm break is like a big thing, you know.
And even the first anniversary I ran through the day on the Friday I, I know it's the 2nd of November, which on the first anniversary was the Saturday. But for me, I went through it hour by hour on the Friday and I had it done and then Godlove. And on the Saturday, he was doing it on the second and he did the same as I had done. You kind of you're watching the clock. And at this time, you know, the accident happened that morning.
Yeah. Then the ambulance came at this time. Then Aniba was airlifted up to Dublin and a helicopter and even I don't know the specifics. And then. She we we learned that she was meant to go to Beaumont and it got changed along the way, she was brought to Temple Street and then and later the ambulance come across Dublin City and was behind the ambulance when we got to Temple Street.
And then we were in this little room with a chaplain. And, like, I just.
Someone is still like she was so strong and tough and I was like, you're just such a strong girl, you'll you'll you'll pull through, you know, her injury to her head was very severe. And I did know that, but I just wanted her to pull through.
Well, you were you were you hopeful that she would. Oh, yeah. Right. Even though, like. Even though it's no shock that she didn't like the injuries to her head or the back of her head were very severe and injuries at work, you know, the two boys were at home.
So I think there's also like while we're grieving, there's also a huge amount of trauma, I suppose, is what you call it from the accident. You know, like honestly, like someone said to me, if you had to watch it in a movie, you'd struggle.
So to actually have to live through it and see your little girl.
Like, it's horrid and I don't see it often and I don't. I don't address it on Instagram because I actually two years on, like, just it is difficult to actually process.
Yeah. And think about it. I'm like, I'm not exaggerating when I say it was actually horrific.
Yeah. But also I think you also have a visual. Yeah.
And she's also your little girl was and it wasn't in the house so you were you would have to make obviously that phone call then and actually warned yesterday, OK, there was.
Made two boys and their two friends, OK, like it was Areti, I think it was like 10 in the morning. But these are friends, you know, you're 17 zero. Doesn't matter what time it's an open door. Yeah, totally.
So I think I rang the ambulance and said and tried to get through to end because obviously phone lines and and then when the helicopter might come in he was like GIGO right after coming out of a helicopter you thought, you know what, we're gonna yes. You're like and he was like, what's the word. Efficient, efficient, I knew he was yeah, he was on a mission. I got this action man action. He was like a real life action.
But yeah, you just uneven random conversations like me and I or had planned to go to New York. And it was like I wanted to do a helicopter ride over New York City. And I was like, no way, you're never going to get me in a helicopter. There's so dangerous. And then a week later, I'm like running into the field beside us with my little girl hopping in a helicopter thinking, oh, my God.
Like, why am I so strange that you're saying that that you wouldn't?
And then without even thinking, oh, my God, straight away. It's funny with life. Yeah.
And the stuff that we say that you never think a week later that you'll be doing it since anybody come across so many people in jobs and you're like, oh my God, how do you actually do your job every day?
Like the people out there are incredible. Like so then when they came, we were all in a waiting room and they came in and they said to me, and and you can go see anybody. And we were like, I firmly believed we were going in to see her, that she was okay.
So we went I was so excited and seen her at all. So we got in and there was people around the bed, nurses and doctors.
And I wanted to put our arms around the two of us. And she said, she's dying. You need to say goodbye. Like you just.
Yeah, I know I could well, I don't know.
But I can I remember looking at them and being like, oh, my God. Like, know what I want to be.
You have to be able to do something like, you know, so I lay up beside her and we talked to her and and spoke to her and put, you know what I.
When she died, they told us I and again, not everyone would get or agree or not everyone to be in the position, but I honestly felt like her spirit left her body OK, like her body was there.
But Annabelle was gone right there.
And I know that might sound crazy to me, saying this to the world. I can totally relate to that.
I can totally relate to. I said it like, yeah.
And I said, no. What? I lie here and talk to her and be with her. But it wasn't about either you were talking to, but they were amazing.
They went and they got her that frozen pajamas. Right.
Oh, what. I thanked her and it was just what people do and that.
And you think those people have to go home to their families or like maybe come back and do it again the next day? Yeah, I know. I know. But then they brought us don't like a chapel room and all our families were there and that was it.
They said, OK, you go home then. And I remember walking from Tampa St Hospital to the Garden Station where Andy's car had been.
No, I said he's good to get in clamped.
You could say that to me this morning. It's just the club story.
No, no. But they had brought the car and and we were just walking down the street beside people I knew just wanted to scream and be like to, you know what like what is just happened. I totally got that. You actually don't have a clue what the person beside you is going through now. Like no one stunned. I remember vividly at the traffic lights, at the big tree being like these people don't know, like what is going on.
And it's just it's the craziest thing. And then then in Ireland, you go into the world and that is a funeral. I call it the show. Oh, I do it again for me.
I feel like it was our one big send off for Annabel. And I want pink flowers. Pink flowers came and went. Pink candles. They're the wrong scent. Get the different scent like a funeral.
Zella is in the building. Yeah, she's here.
But it's so bizarre and had done a lot of work for Marcy's funeral home as a building company. So like there's not many people that have funeral home people on speed dial, but masses were amazing descent and pictures of coffins. I'd like I was like, I'd like a pink coffin, please. They couldn't get a pink one, but they did get some lovely white ones. So I got to choose. Of course, I picked the one that was the furthest away a dining car went.
That got it.
Like it. You know, people honestly, best people to swing out of the trees. I suppose they would have done a better thing.
I find community spirit. Oh, Little Towns is phenomenal.
And it's only now I can look back a year, two years now and go, wow, that was so amazing.
I don't think we actually even know the half of, like, what people just but even I don't think can actually describe in words like that.
So that was Saturday. We got to go to Dublin and bring on about home on Sunday. And then the wake was Monday evening or the removal and I think three hours of just shaking hands. And I kind of thought there's going to be no one in the church tomorrow, like everyone we know has come through like it's it's going to be empty. And yet you get to the church. And I honestly thought, like, I saw people, I was like, you have a job like is nobody working today?
And I just like I had friends fly home from London, like I couldn't comprehend how good people had been.
And yes, you just don't think, oh, well, what about happened?
Someone else? Because it's not what you think. It's not what I think about. Like people were. Amazing, she just had and they were there for her, like for this three and a half year old, and I just feel like so many people knew her at three and a half.
And I think that was so special. What do you think, because you were saying it's when you know, you lose a parent or grandparent. It's like the past in which your beautiful Annabell, it's carnage, the future. Do you think to yourself, I smile when I say this night? I never thought about what what would she have been like the day of our first Holy Communion? Can you imagine yourself or like what she would have been like on her 13th birthday or on her 16th birthday?
Or have you in your mind said what would she have been like at her junior senator leaving cert and stuff like that?
We used to always say I was like, oh, my God, Annabelle, you're going to break our hearts like she is going to break our hearts.
Like, I just suppose I meant it in a different way. Like, God love her. She has broken our hearts.
But I thought she'd be just given us a run for our money like she put. It's funny, we were at a 21st event, his nephew, a few months after, and we were just sitting at a table and I saw girls out on the dance floor that was like, I'm never going to see Ollabelle drunk. I'm like, that's not what your mother wants. You never want to admit you want to see your child.
Your photos are never going to get that chance. Never going to have a hangover.
You know, like I genuinely was sitting in the middle of a crowd of public with tears in my eyes thinking that thought. And I thought, oh, God, is that terrible?
No, I think what it is, it's a very real thought. And it's a very it's a realization that that's another thing that you're not going to experience with her and people.
It is great. You know, the big days, her birthday, her communion, her confirmation, people will always think of you those days.
But for me and for and it's the setting the table. And No one, she sat at that table and she's not there. I'm open and the press and seen the pink lunchboxes. I'm thinking I don't get to make her at lunch. It's we still have her stuff like we the underwear box on her.
It's still in there that every time you root through for a pair of socks, her stuff is still there. It's like her pink bicycle is still outside the door. Like in a sense you feel like she's gone, but everything about her is still there. But I suppose she'll always be three and a half.
I don't look at a five year old and think about about, OK, I like it's always like and you look for like the blonde curly hair and the kind of sturdy kind of girl, you know, she wasn't pretty sure. She wasn't graceful. She was just all in. It sounds fabulous. But was she a little tomboy. Yeah.
And yet she loved like her dress, the dolls bag and her toughies and. Yeah. So she like what we kind of said she was Aladdin and a lady all rolled into one. She really was. It just depends who she was with on any given day like you know.
But it's the little things that every day. Yeah.
You miss her and you know when you're with her cousins, when you're out of family, do you think people are thinking, like, you don't want to take away from anyone else's happiness? Of course. And that's my thing. Like, I can be so happy. Like Annabel should be starting school in September. And she she was so excited because I teach in the school my kids go to all she ever wanted was to go to mommy's school. I'm like, oh, that's where she should be.
I should be buying her uniform and her school shoes on her bag and a lunchbox. You know, you look at them and you think, yeah, I think it would be bright and glittery and rainbows. And, you know, those are the bits that you just you just have to get on with it. You walk.
Where are you? Where do you put all of that? How do you where do you put it to get on with your day and get out of bed? Where do you park it?
Sometimes I think that is actually where Instagram is. Great. OK, I can pop up a picture and be like, oh God, I love that biger. And again, that's a whole other story. Like, there's so many facets to life now. You know, life before Anabella of the trauma of the accident. You have the actual grief you have live in after, you know, and then you have Instagram.
And I'm like the why? Like, how is it so helpful? And I try to get across to people. It it is in some strange way so helpful that people are so kind and thoughtful. And that's what I also have real life friends and real life community. I just think it's another layer. And that's what Temple Street, they had a bereavement team that spoke to us. And, you know, sometimes, yes, I would have been the person like we all need counselors and I need a therapist and we need psychologists and we all need to be fixed, you know, like let's have them on speed dial.
But through Temple Street, through like you imagine a triangle or a pyramid and down the bottom here, you get the most support from your family and friends. And then next you go to maybe your work friends or the boys school. They'll get support and then your community and then up there at the top. If all of them aren't working, well, then go to the counselors and the psychologists and the people you need for help. But I just feel like.
We're so beyond lucky with the support we have and the family and the friends and and I always say to people like no one's a mind reader, like I have to tell people like I need this or I need that or, you know, this is coming up. It's hard or, you know, like Irish families, like it's like, let's get a rug and sweep everything.
But if you're open to people and talk about it, they realize, OK, she wants to talk about and that's what I told people like please talk to me about it and about the same way you would about T.J. and then.
Yeah, you know, like I've always believed and the reason for doing the podcast was to sit down with people who had gone through or who are going through loss, grief. You know, I feel like it's such a taboo subject that we don't talk about it. I think it's because we're afraid or maybe we're afraid of what people are going to say to us. Maybe it's awkward.
Oh, yeah, it's more awkward on other people. And I understand that because I would be the person who would not say a word. I would talk about everything else except the issue, you know, and I think that's why I'm so understanding to people who find it difficult or who say the wrong thing or who don't say anything, because I would be that person who would like, oh, my God, I don't know what to say. So I would just say nothing at all.
I actually just avoid them. So I get it. But I suppose I suppose by me talking, I hope it helps other people.
Oh, I, I think people listening to this episode now will be will admire your honesty. I think how you've done it in a way that is just amazing and especially with the boys. And I can see that and just your great support to each other. You know, I see when you talk about your daughter, how your face lights up, you know, I also see when you talk about the dark day that it was that when it happened, it's a tragedy.
I can see that you're still living through that. But I think it's an actual process and no one can tell you or tell me how we should be doing it.
No, no. Like no one two people only MEANWELL.
Yeah, of course they really are. What might work for them might not necessarily work for you.
Maybe it's talking talk and yeah, honestly, I am lucky. I have good friends who just listen to me talk and talk and I think like nearly two years on God like are there nothing and will she ever step on about this.
But whether they are not like this to listen to me, you know, and it can be hard because everyone I realize is that we're not the only people going through crap. No, everyone has tough times. Everyone has their own issues, you know, and ours are there. They're just different in a sense, like they're not this is it's not a problem that can be solved. It's no there's no fixing it. There's just learning to live with it and to honor and remember Annabell as best we can.
I think and I do wonder, like, why is it so important? Why is our memory and our name so important to me? But I just think like it was our personality, I feel like she would have shone through life. She would have been no known, you know. So I feel like as a mother, you have to continue it on for like you just think you're her mother. It's your job.
It's like it's a duty. It's your responsibility as her mom.
I feel that way, you know, and and other people might feel differently. And this is the thing someone else might not want to openly tell the world about them. And that's fine if that's what they want. This is me. And they're obviously supportive as well. And he's happy to, you know, like just have her remembered.
I remember message you sat means you were listening to the episode. It was actually the episode with Des Bishop. And was it a white feather?
Yeah, but it landed, you see. And I try not to be I be a bit like science, you know, I like to take them with a pinch of salt. I'm like, I don't want to be, you know, fallen for them all.
But actually, when we were in Australia for my sister's wedding and we were going to get our spray tans done because we were like the white Irish people in Australia, she needs to spray.
Yeah, maybe three, four.
We were all in the car, had enough anyway, and we came to traffic light and there was a car in front of us and it was pink and. Oh, that's cute. And then a girl leapt out the traffic light like Jesus Christ. You could think of a safer place to help out. And the numberplate had the name Annabell.
No, it's nothing. But like, seriously, that's a sign both.
It's far away to stop. You have to stretch. But I will.
That was definitely a sign, a pillow with the numberplate and about. And I was like, OK, you're in Australia with us like Muzaffarnagar.
We're like, yeah, there's so much like ownable, used to hate flies. I hate them. Like I'm just here. Be scared of them I.
You know, she just ran around like the really aggravated right out of fear or more will get away. Yeah, so she had like two flyswatter and she was going around trying to kill them or whatever, like she really had issues with them. But like I remember even after the funeral, like a few days after hopping into the Jeep for the first time and there was a fly in. And I'm like, oh, do I get to fly out?
I keep flying like, is it Annabell or swatter? Like it's fly. Like just let it fly out.
It's probably four days, but, you know, I'm like processing it. Yeah. You're like, oh, I don't want to be taken for a fool.
Yes. But sometimes I'd be like, well if you're going to leave a white feather mixture, it's really big and really white. But I remember like one time around by one and then like the holiday home, I was like, oh my God, I feel so bad. I should have picked it up when I got back.
And you're like, Oh, make yourself March.
Yeah, but when Mom Mammoet Robbins', it's like April time when you would normally see a Robin. I'm looking out a window and I'm like, it's throbbing.
And I look at the robber and I'm like, Mom, is this you folks all flies off somewhere.
And I'm just thinking, Jesus, for a second, what was I expecting the Robin to say?
It's me. It's your mom. I don't know. Maybe I did for that moment. And then I didn't tell the girls and he was on the podcast and they were like, ha ha.
You say, maybe I was hoping for a sign or maybe I was hopeful. Yeah, it's so strange. But I think, again, if that's what we need to help us get through it, we're not really doing whether, you know, the fly in the car.
Fine. But the pink car, the Annabell, to me that is like a woo woo feel like the fact that she was there with you.
Do you find peace with that or does that make you more emotional and. No, no.
I do find like yeah. I just think oh I kind of stuff I like. Yeah. You watch me like I feel she's with me right now. You're going to go anywhere when we're abroad, when we go to a hotel, even with the boys. Actually we had this conversation with the boys for her first anniversary. We went to Claire and we're having dinner.
And I'm saying like, do you think Annabel is here with us or do you think she's at home in a room? And they're like, oh, no, she's here. Right. OK, that was lovely to hear them say that. Yeah, we do feel she's just always with us wherever we go.
As a mom and dad, do you worry about the boys? That'll be OK.
I suppose you've to to like I would be fairly easy going person in general, but after the accident, that was so like freak. There was no preventing it. It was just it happened.
You now worry like about everything, right? Like be careful, do this. That's dangerous. And I was never that mother, like, you know. So there's that side that you're worrying about, their physical well-being, obviously. Then what they witnessed was horrific. You worry about that, how that will impact them psychologically. And then on a normal like just grieving their little sister is a whole other level.
And, you know, they had different relationships with her. And, you know, I get so sad looking at T.J. when he's out playing, he just wants his sister and they get sad. And I've always been very conscious. I'm not going to talk for the boys and I'm not going to say they're fine because I deep down don't know. And that's their business.
It's such like that. If they wish to talk about it, they can.
But obviously, without going into detail, they have difficult times just the way me and and to do and they have tough days and they miss her so much and they just miss the life we had. Annabelle was like the glue. Right, because CNN, T.J., are chalk and cheese. Right. Like, they're just different. T.J., teachers like country farmer tractor, like his dad. Yeah. CNN is more like me.
Like nice things go for coffee, but I never kind of glued them together, glued all of us together. She was just fun. She was just fun. And you messed up fun and messing around the house. And that's hard to get back at the best of times. But when it's the one who was the phone, that's gone twice as hard.
Yeah. You know, I just think you're incredibly brave. And like when you said to me, you know, bit about me saying the message, the times we were sending each other, you were saying that you weren't sure if you would be able to talk about it, you know, and talk about her in such a positive way.
As I said to her, sure. Justice, that's what you said. But like I'm so engrossed in this conversation, I could talk to you for hours. I just think the way you've handled it, I think you've gone about it the right way. I think you've been very honest. You've been very truthful. You know, I think you're also aware that you still have two other young children that need their mom and their dad. You know, it's very selfless, I think, and I think to lose a child and in the way that it was, it's just so I want to project remembered for the.
The life she lived, not for how she died and things like that, like just she had three and a half years and years and I want her life to be remembered and her personal. And I love when people message and say, like because of Annabel, I cut my little one longer because of Annabel. I take extra photos. Because of Annabel, we do X, Y and Z like to me. And I thought is amazing. And like, well, that's Annabel.
Yeah, that may be her legacy or that's what. Right. OK, so yes, I agree with you on that. This I can kind of get that from people who are my mom's really pissed me off, but, you know, I'm going to make an extra effort today. I'm going to give her a hug. We're going to book around that holiday with me.
But I do. I feel for people who are like, oh, my God, the kids are driving me crazy. And then they're like, oh, no, but they're really good at that. And, you know, like, they still drive. My car still drove me crazy.
But I quite like the way you say that because kids can drive you crazy and you're allowed to think it and say it.
My two together were like, they're just tortured each other like they loved each other. But my God, you, like, stop us, you know, and that's kids, like they're just they're going to do that.
But yeah, they yeah.
Like and even just like I sang on about Twinkle Twinkle every night going to sleep. And I think that's where like a lot of stars and things like that come in.
And she never knew the words I like when to Lincoln and then she like I like twinkle, twinkle, twinkle, twinkle little star, you know, and like you could try change into a different song about Winkelmann, like a cross Zentan and like it was so special like so for her funeral when Annabel was leaving the church, like I like it sounds weird, but I love to have it on camera. Everyone sang or Twinkle Twinkle and like that was just so amazing.
Like it was like she was going for obviously her last sleep and she have been saying it was just so special.
Did they sing Twinkle, Twinkle, Twinkle, Twinkle? I think Twinkle, Twinkle, Twinkle.
And you did say, and I hope I get this right, that your two boys now have a guardian angel. She's looking out for them.
She is OK. Definitely, yeah.
I'll have to remind them that when they're up devilment. But I can about them. Tell me and be happy. Yeah.
Thank you so much for having this conversation with me. It's never easy, especially on a public platform. But like you said, you found that Instagram and social media has actually helped you. And hopefully by having this conversation, it will help other people. And Fearnot, you have done your daughter, Annabel, the best justice by even just having this conversation.
And thank you to ENDA, who sat beside you for the whole chat and was kind of whispering to you. I can see he's also looking to do the next podcast.
Oh, yes. To be a two hour special. And thank you so much, Eileen, and thank you. Enter.
Thank you, Brian. Thank you.
It's clear from our conversation that Eileen is an incredible mother and it's a testament to her and our family that Annabelle was such a loving and happy child during the season. I've heard a lot from people grieving for the future they had hoped for. Next week's guest, Alan McGovern, understands this more than most. He talks to me about losing his wife Jenny to cancer in 2018.
She rang me as well. Can I please? And she said, you need to come in the or the the professor wants you to come in and he wants to talk to us. And I knew then that it was going to be good news.
And I went in and she was in floods of tears. And I said, what's happening? Because I don't think I'd get in there. And I just broke down and we had a good cry together.
And for the next hour, it was just horrific news. And he came in and he said, look, it's inoperable pancreatic cancer. And I had never Googled pancreatic cancer. And that's one thing we never did throughout the whole journey. But I knew instinctively that it wasn't it wasn't good news. And so she was stage four pancreatic cancer at that point. And straight after that, her her oncologist was introduced to us. A guy called us and David family, who's just was an amazing man.
And and he came in with a plan on Jeni's to refer to him as the man with the plan. And as soon as she got that plan, being the type of person that she is, as she she said to me, she goes, Now, you've told me what you want to do. I want to make a deal with you. And she said, I want you to get me to Christmas. And this was August 15th. I want you to get me to Christmas.
And because I have a holiday plan to the states and he shook her hand, he goes, I'll do my best. It's Christmas.