Berkeley: We're less a country than a big village, and this affects us all
I can't stop thinking about the families.
I think of what they're facing: Looking for a misplaced passport; ordering a taxi through Hailo; walking through a terminal building surrounded by people whose biggest concern is how to find an edible sandwich; removing shoes and belts and telling airport security that, no, there are no electronic goods here.
The body present and acting on remembered things while the mind fast forwards to what they'll face when they get there.
I think of their shared grief in a strange airport when they land, how to get from A to B, who to phone and how not to just collapse.
I listened to the coverage on Newstalk yesterday and it was said that many in Ireland will know or at least have heard of somebody affected by the tragedy in Berkeley.
"Ireland is a small country," said Consul General to the United States, Philip Grant. "Very few have been left untouched."
His words came straight back to me when I found out that my fiancée used to work with the mother of one of the victims.
I'd heard good stories about this lady and, indeed, her children and what they were doing with themselves. They're her entire world and now she's stuck at a luggage carousel, over there, on the worst day of her life.
Back here, we're left wondering if we ever stood at a bus stop with Eoghan Culligan, or if we ever accidentally bumped off Niccolai Schuster's chair in Bewley's of Grafton Street before it closed down. We think of Eimear Walsh and the people who know her, those who travelled with her and whether they're in the hospital now and what will their lives be like?
We relate to them because we were them. We were them when we took our J1 Visas and got up to the best kind of mischief, Irish mischief, and earned stories that we'd still be telling 18 or 20 years later and beyond.
We can only hope that, until those final tragic moments, it felt like the start of something great. That's the only piece of hope we have as we send our thoughts to the families of the victims at such a sad time.
RIP Ashley, Olivia, Eimear, Eoghan, Niccolai and Lorcan.