I have never attended a candlelit vigil before so I did not know what to expect. I knew that I had to dress warmly and so donned a warm hat and two pairs of socks and my favourite vintage coat that guarantees central heating even in extreme Arctic conditions. However, my emotions were not prepared at all. I neglected to pay attention to them. You cannot dress emotions.
H and I walked up the city street. Shoppers abounded carrying paper bags full of goodies guaranteed to enhance their lives. Young girls looked excited. Ready for the night to come. People were drinking out of coffee cups and laughing and smiling. But we were headed to the Square where the vigil was to be held. We had forgotten our candles.
But there is always someone in the crowd who compensates for people like us. The woman with the large pack of candles handed them out without hesitation. We took one each. Lit them. Stood there surveying the crowd. It was bigger than I had anticipated but smaller than I wished. But I was part of it and that is all that mattered.
Our candles kept blowing out. The sneaky wind in Galway can do that. Blow the light at the least encouragement. But we persisted and soon our wicks were burning bright along with those in solidarity with us.
Savita's picture was everywhere. Her beauty lit up the Square. Children stood with their parents. Young girls gathered in groups. I recognised several people from the multi-denominational school that my youngest son attended in Primary School.
Silence predominated. There was no anger. I was grateful for that. There is another place for anger. This was a homage to a beautiful person who suffered and died in a nightmare situation.
So for that I can't really express myself properly. H and I finally saw a path and how the vigil worked. We wound our way to the top of the crowd where an altar of candles had been placed in Savita's memory. Incense burned. The perfume infused my being. We waited our turn to lay our candles with all the others before us. One little girl asked her dad if she could do a drawing for the altar. He assured her she could.
I placed my candle into the light. I began to cry then. I was crying for all that is wrong in this world. For the women in Ireland. For the women I saw in the street carrying shopping bags full of fashion, for those laughing with their boyfriends, for myself. I was crying because I was Irish. I was crying because of what happened to Savita. I could see her in the hospital begging to be saved. I could see her looking out the window at the lights of the city and wondering if anyone out there could ever hear her. Could halt the hands of a law that kills.