At midday today, our school had a time of reflection in memory of those who died in Creeslough last Friday.
Asked to write some words of reflection, there was an awareness that no words would be adequate, but I tried to root my words in the lives of those who would be listening.
Below is the draft of what was said. It was amended and expanded before being read by two of the students.
To be a teenager. It’s the best of times.
Friends and laughter and the whole of your life ahead of you. Already there are so many memories to treasure, and what dreams there are still to come true, what loves there are to be found, what hopes there are to work for.
To be thirteen or fourteen is to be at the beginning of it all, there is a whole adventure ahead of you, a whole story to be written.
Of course, your parents will worry about you. Be careful about what you do, be careful about what you do. But that’s what parents are for, isn’t it? If parents didn’t worry, would they be doing their job? Being nagged, makes you feel safe, it makes you feel you are protected.
Not that you need to be protected, of course. You are invincible, you are indestructible, and at thirteen or fourteen, you are going to live forever.
To be thirteen or fourteen is to be living in the best of times, to be living in the happiest of times.
James was thirteen and Leona was fourteen, they were in the best of times.
On Friday afternoon, they stood in the shop, in the post office, at the garage. They stood in a place that was safe, in a place where people knew them, in a place where there was no need to worry.
In Creeslough, on Friday afternoon, their lives ended. James’ mother, and seven other people, died with them
Lives ended at thirteen and fourteen.
They will forever be remembered at those ages. They will no longer get old.
In the silence, try to think of what it would be like to be one of their family, one of their friends.
And try to think of the loved ones of the others who died: the little girl of five who died with her dad; the people with long lives ahead of them, whose future ended in a moment of darkness.
May the God whose son died in the darkness of a Friday afternoon be with each person there.