‘She’s gone’ her sister told me. Remembering Aisling McDermott
Are We There Yet? My kind, clever, outrageous and courageous friend
MS was the very last thing that defined Aisling McDermott. Photograph: Frank Miller
I haven’t been much use as a parent in recent days. My kind, clever, outrageous and fearless friend Aisling McDermott died just over a week ago. She co-founded the groundbreaking Irish website beaut.ie. She wrote three beauty books, a weekly beauty column for The Irish Times and a raucous novel that’s yet to be published.
She did all of that while enduring multiple sclerosis. She’d not like me telling you that. MS was the very last thing that defined her.
“She’s gone,” her sister Kirstie told me on the phone last Thursday morning. She was only 46.
It’s hard to be a good mother when all of your insides ache for a friend. What I’ve held on to is one perfect day we had after Christmas with her husband Derrick, my partner and our two daughters in their beautiful home in Celbridge. Aisling had a new kitten called Minx which had arrived on Christmas Eve.
We played with the kitten and watched the very delightful La La Land, which none of us had seen. There were plates piled with chocolate biscuits and we ate fish and chips in front of the telly. We played Dobble and Aisling showed us her new brain-training and meditation apps she had downloaded.
My two girls took turns messing about in her wheelchair. How she hated that wheelchair. She took a photo of them with Minx and posted it to Instagram. We laughed a lot as we always did. Correction, we cackled.
On the car journey home from her house, we talked about what a perfect day it was and planned the next visit to Aisling. How were we to know that this Aisling visit would be our last.
Grief is a leaky, sinking boat and when we lose somebody so suddenly we use memories of those special, perfect days to try to plug the holes. Our children and their clear-sighted observations help us too. “At least she’s not suffering anymore,” they say, taking my damp face in their hands . “At least she’s not in pain.”
That is a comfort. It is. But I can’t believe I’ll never hear her cackle again.
Here are some things to do this weekend with your own very good friends and the children in your life . . .
Paddington 2 is the best fun our family have had at the cinema in ages, some of us – no names no pack drill – went to see it three times. Hugh Grant and Brendan Gleeson are stellar but Nicole Kidman’s performance in the first Paddington movie was also a winner. If you need a Paddington fix, that first movie is being screened at the Pavilion Theatre this weekend. Adapted from the late Michael Bond’s beloved books, it follows the comic misadventures of a polite young bear from Peru who likes marmalade. What more could you want?
Where: Pavilion Theatre, Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin
When: Saturday January 20th, 3pm
Cost: €5 for kids, €7.50 for adults, a family ticket for four people is €20
Contact: 01-231 2929
Stressed Out Steve’s Worry Workshop
First Fortnight, the mental health arts festival, continues this weekend with a fun-filled hour of stress, worry and consternation for 6-8 year olds, where you will get to use art, drama and storytelling to explore the complex concepts of mood and emotion.
Where: Riverbank Arts Centre, Co Kildare
When: Saturday, January 20th, 10:30am and 12:30am
Hands on History at the National Museum
There is an awful lot of “do not touch” in some museums which is a bit off-putting for children. Thankfully, the National Museum at Collins Barracks has a “handling collection”, and at this drop-in event they positively encourage children to handle the artefacts. These ones relate to childhood and play. No booking required.
Where: National Museum Collins Barracks
When: Sunday, January 21st, 3pm
Music In Glass Exhibition
This exhibition explores sound captured in glass in this beautiful exhibition of work by Irish glass artist Róisín de Buitléar. Featuring pieces from de Buitléar’s Irish Incantation/Ortha series, the glass objects capture the essence of musical sound and pitch in glass form. Some of the sculptures are made to evoke the sound and duration of a musical note, others will remind you of musical instruments that look like they could be played. While you are visiting the exhibition, you will see a video of musicians Liam Ó Maonlaí and Peter O’Toole, along with hearing Buitléar talking about the inspiration for her work. You also get the chance to make your own glass music.
Where: The Ark, Temple Bar, Dublin
When: Saturday, January 20th, 10.30am-4.30pm
Contact: 01-670 7788