Dear Grace...

It's only been a year since I last wrote to you but it feels like a millennium. Many things have happened- events, functions, celebrations, birthdays, funerals, births and deaths. It's been a rollercoaster of emotions, and feelings, merriments and sorrows. A year on I feel wiser and look at life with a different perspective.
Many things have occurred in the last year, that has made me realise how vulnerable life is and how privileged I am of this life. I feel at this point I know you too well and hence take this liberty to write to you about my year of enlightenment.

Christmas at the Healy house was a tad low key this year due to a mishap in my family that you will read about further down in my letter. However, my uncle Pat invited us all to his big house and cooked for us all a lovely Christmas meal. This immensely lifted our spirits. It was a perfect occasion when all my cousins came together and we had a great time. My uncle John was so funny- he got a bit tipsy and sang ol' Irish songs and changed the lyrics to make them silly. Everyone enjoyed his songs.
After the party we came back to our own house were a funny thing happened. This will make you laugh too. My stepdad has a quirky sense of humour. He first received his Christmas presents from mom and, when it came to his turn to give my mom her presents, he produced what looked like a gift certificate. He asked my mom to open it and read from it. It was a certificate from the Cancer Research Society indicating a £500 donation that was received by them from my mom. George explained that he donated this money on behalf of my mom and this was the thank you letter and certificate from them. My mom's face was a picture when she started reading the letter. She was so engrossed in the letter and what she thought was a disastrous first Christmas present from her husband that she did not even realise that the certificate was signed buy a Dr. Yuri Duffus. (You are a duffus!!!) Obviously my sister and I were in this scam with George and we could not keep a straight face for too long. We could not bear to see my mum pretending to be thrilled with her gift for too long either. We, after a short while, told her all about the scam and George produced her actual gifts that were hidden all around the house. It made me realise how people react when there is a big difference between their expectations and actual. It also made me realise that laughter is certainly the best medicine in life.

There are a couple of events that happened that have changed a few things forever in my life. Firstly my mother, whom I love so dearly, got married to the love of her life. Her love and affection towards my stepdad, George, taught me how true love is so different to what we see in the movies. My mom told me that it takes a lot of respect, trust and loyalty to have a beautiful and long-lasting marriage. She also told me it takes a lot of compromise and efforts keep any relationship fresh and interesting, and I believe her and it is certainly true with her and George and I pray that someday I will have the same.

Another important event happened. I was told by my mom that I was going to have a baby brother or sister. My mother told me that we would have this new person in the family before Christmas. That would have been the best Christmas present for me. But this will not happen now because this baby was taken by God to be an Angel with him in Heaven. My mom tells me that this baby would have been a girl. We therefore decided to call her Éabha. I took the name Éabha as my Confirmation Name. My entire family was terribly upset about this horrible loss but we all helped each other get through that difficult time. I now have a beautiful little sister who is an Angel in Heaven. I sometimes lie in my bed at night and look into the sky and try to pick out the star that Éabha's hiding behind. I imagine she would have had been slightly tanned, gorgeous long silky brown hair, and beautiful big brown eyes and would become a diva. I have learned that we can plan so many things in our life but can never be certain of their outcome. After all, they say, Man proposes and God disposes!

My Dearest Grace, I feel I can write pages and pages of my life stories to you as I know you enjoy listening to the. However it's almost bed time for me. I feel relieved of my sorrows, now that I shared them with you. One can only hope and pray that the year to come will bring us all happiness and joyful memories. My anticipation starts now.......

Sophie Ní Éalaí