CPL. Ciara M. Durkin
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About Ciara
From: Fiona

This past year has been life changing for our family. We have been through such an emotional upheaval since Ciara’s death and we are just now coming to terms with her death, in so far as we ever can come to terms with such a loss. As I look back on how much we had to go through, I am so very thankful for all the support we have had from those around us.

I am also thankful that the manner of her death no longer haunts me. I have accepted that we may never know what happened on that night. I take great comfort from remembering how she lived, and I have left it in God's hands to deal with matters outside of my control.

My daughters regularly bring up some memory of their Auntie Ciara, which will make us all laugh, and it amazes me that they have not one unhappy memory when it comes to Ciara. They, like the rest of us, remember her with a smile, and I feel they have become stronger as a result of this trauma in their lives.

This past year has brought me the pleasure of getting to know Ciara’s closest friends better, and the stories they have shared of their escapades with Ciara had brought much laughter. In our family, we always saw Ciara as being happy, but it was great to learn that she was that way with her friends also. I am still amazed at how many people tell me of the acts of kindness for which she was responsible

A particular memory comes to mind. My brother and sisters were visiting us from Ireland and Ciara offered to drive them from Boston to New York to visit another sibling in Long Island. Off they went, without even a map to find their way. Later in the day, I got a call from Ciara. She had decided to "detour" to the Bronx, to show her siblings the house where our father lived as a child. The fact that Ciara had never been to the Bronx before, or even knew where the house was, never fazed her! And did I mention- she had no map?! By the time she rang me, they were woefully lost- somewhere in New York. They had found their way to the wrong house, and eventually gave up when daylight deserted them and rain blocked their view of signposts. A police officer guided them out of the Bronx and in the direction of Long Island. We teased Ciara about her terrible navigation skills for ages afterwards. She loved that story of their New York adventure.

I recently watched videos of the last Christmas Eve we spent with Ciara. She had kept those same videos installed on her laptop while she was in Afghanistan. On the video, the family is sitting around the table and the laughter and teasing is constant. It gives me great comfort knowing that Ciara had those videos to watch if ever she felt homesick. I know they would have reminded her of the love that surrounded her and was waiting for her at home.

The memory I cherish most now is the memory of my last moments with Ciara. After teasing her about the short time she had remaining overseas, I hugged her tight. I told her I was proud of her, and I told her that I would proudly point at her and tell my children “This is what a strong woman looks like”. She looked me in the eye and said to me "you know what, I'm proud of me too". Her eyes were sparkling with pride, and she never looked happier. You know, as memories go, it's not the worst “last memory” to have. And now it will have to do.