CPL. Ciara M. Durkin
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One story we remember fondly of Ciara was a time when she invited some family members to visit an Alzheimer clinic where she worked as an activities coordinator. When the family members walked in with Ciara the entire group of patients turned and started walking towards her. They had their hands in the air looking for a hug. They started surrounding Ciara. It was chaos. They were flocking to her creating a huge circle around her. They were clamoring to hug her. Ciara was smiling and laughing, and soon they were too. She gave a warm hello and hug to each one, remembering each of their names. Each got their hug, and each was smiling, infected by her entrance.

Out of the chaos came one short elderly woman. She approached Ciara in little baby steps, because that was as fast as she could go. Like the others, she had her arms raised as high as they could go. She wanted a hug like everyone else. When she finally got to Ciara, she looked up high at Ciara's face said: "I don't know who you are, but I know I love you!"
I like this story because we can all relate to that Alzheimer patient to a certain degree. We all wondered, at least once, what it was exactly that was going on in Ciara's head. With each of us, there was some part of Ciara that we didn't quite understand. We'd often find ourselves asking her "You did WHAT?!" So, like the Alzheimer patient, there were parts of her that we didn't understand, but we knew we loved her. We couldn't help but love her.

But why? What was it about her? What was it that made us put up with her antics? She could be flighty at times. She could be messy at times, and she sometimes had funny habits. But what was it? What was it that trapped us into loving her?

It's because, when we think of Ciara's face, the image that pops up in our mind is her face, with a smile on it. With that smiling face looking at you, she, even now, wants you happy. Each person knows why they loved her, because when you think of her smiling face, you remember a time when Ciara, at some point, made your day brighter. No matter how bad her day was going, when she was with you, her
silliness, her hearty infectious laughter, was an effort to make you happy.

It's so typical of Ciara to be like that. She was selfless to a fault. It was a fault, because often, in order to
make you happy, she forgot about herself in the process. It was our happiness that mattered. Our happiness made her happy. It's that reciprocity that trapped us into loving her.

Ciara no longer has to worry about her own wellbeing. She can do now, without any constraints, what she always did best: make us happy. She accomplishes that every time we remember her. In our memories of her, the last time we saw her, she was doing something to put a smile on our faces. So, it is our job then, to live every moment of our lives happy, because our memories of her are happy. Our memories of her make us happy. She gave those memories to us for a good reason, and they are now forever with us. So use them. If you knew her, you know that's what she would've wanted. Be happy in memory of her, as if it's what she asked you the last time she saw you. She would've said "Be Happy!" Then she would say "I Love You" and you would know you loved her too.
Written and read by Ciara's brother Pierce Durkin (shown above)
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