First published 6th August 2013
I was sitting at my ease outside the cafe in Farmleigh, the magnificent estate in the Phoenix Park that the government had the wisdom to buy for the nation. The veranda of the cafe sits over the edge of the little lake that nestles between the trees, which lends a wonderful artistic dimension to the park. I had a cup of coffee, a homemade scone and some jam in front of me this lovely summer’s day. Children were throwing bread to the pair of swans and the many ducks who were vying for the attention of the donors. One mallard hen had eight ducklings in her wake, the chicks gave the impression that they were running on the water at times in their haste.
Three women were sitting nearby, pots of tea and cups before them, apparently without a care in the world, but then I heard one of them say “I’m not afraid of dying, until I think of the kids being without me, then a great sorrow, a crushing feeling of loneliness comes over me”. When one hears something like this, questions come unbidden to mind, the first and foremost being ‘Where is the hand of God in all this? Why does God allow so much suffering in the world? This is a question that theologians feebly try to answer, modern philosophers don’t even try.
As I was preparing to leave I sneaked a glance at the women, one was wearing a big cap, a sort of a beret, pulled down over her ears, an indication maybe that chemotherapy had or was being endured. My heart went out to her, my sister had died of cancer and my wife had breast cancer a couple of years previously. Fortunately my wife had survived this savage and merciless disease, but she too had worn a variety of caps while undergoing treatment.
I left, went on my way, walking in the sun, the ducklings were still running hither and thither on the picturesque lake. The three women were chatting, drinking their tea, but what of the woman in the big cap? Did she go on meeting her pals for elevenses in Farmleigh? Did God, or the Lifeforce, or Fate spare her? Will she live to see her children reach adulthood? I hope she does, oh I hope she does.