My heart went out to her. She had carried her burdens alone and in silence for so many years. "How do you feel now?" I asked. "Relieved, cold, scared, scared something awful will happen now that I have spoken out" she whispered. I got a blanket for her and made some tea. I reminded her that what she said in the room would remain in the room. She studied me long and hard. Then she nodded when she knew I was telling the truth.
She asked me then "But what will I do?" I chose my words carefully. I wanted to honour the moment, her courage, her pain. "If being Irish means being hurt, neglected and abused, I'm not surprised you don't want to be Irish" I said quietly. She looked surprised, and then nodded again as if to say go on. Again I paused, we were now at a crossroads in this journey together. All the compassion I felt for her was in my voice as I said softly and gently, "Is it true that being Irish means ONLY bad things?" Silence again, then a slow beautiful smile unfurled across her face as she said "No, no...it does not."