This year, as Christmas approaches, a whole generation that parented and mentored me seems to be passing on. I have an aunt who is languishing in a care home, an uncle who has received the news that he has got cancer, a mother who now has dementia. A world I thought was there forever, standing between me and the great tide of time, is falling away.
Last week, on the ferry from Stranraer, my sister came visiting from England. We watched the boat glide up the lough to the city, slipping past our Carrickfergus window late one night – a purr of engines and a row of portholes in the dark. She brought us news of nephews and neices who are vibrant with life – a boy just graduated from Oxford , a girl just back from a 6 month trip to India, another boy partying every night at the expense of his school-day studies,to his parents’ exasperation. Somehow the house was flooded with their vitality, curiosity and strength, even though they were many miles away.
This Christmas, I wait by the sea for whatever else the ferry man will bring. Each morning the sun rises over the Copeland Islands and a new day breaks.