This is the text of a my piece which was broadcast on RTE Radio One’s Sunday Miscellany on 15th March last. You can also listen back here
March is the month of the Dublin daffodils. All over the suburbs of our capital city, in gardens, on grass verges, on roundabouts and central medians of our dual carriageways, there are great swathes of brave daffodils who seem to smile at us, regardless of the battering they may be getting from the wind and the rain. They do their level best to remain standing, nodding their heads and bringing a splash of sunny yellow to our increasingly grey urban environment.
My father and my brother both died in March – different Marchs and many years ago. My brother died very suddenly and in the immediate aftermath of his death, my world went very dark. I found myself marooned behind a black wall of grief and shock. Everything had seemingly changed and I felt as if nothing would ever be the same again. Then one morning, about a week after he died on St Patrick’s Day 1996, I looked out my window and for the first time I noticed a large clump of daffodils, standing together in their bright yellow clothes that seemed almost irreverent to me, in my deep mourning. What right had they to be so cheerful?
But as I stared at them, willing them to show me some respect, something inside me changed. Because it was those daffodils, on a piece of parkland outside my house, that made me realise how important it was for me to hold onto hope; the hope that although all may ultimately be changed, all will be well, in time.
March is often the month when winter feels at its longest. We are regularly becalmed in the cold, the rain, the storms and sometimes even the snow when we are longing to move forward into the sunnier, warmer, gentler longer days of spring and summer. Sometimes we can almost smell those days which we know should waiting somewhere in the wings but which tantalisingly remain beyond our grasp. But the daffodils know better. They are fearless about breaking through the hard, frosty ground in order to deliver their message, year after year after year.
Last Thursday as I drove along the N11, listening to the radio and trying to come to terms with the new reality in which we all find ourselves right now, the bouncing daffodils once again caught my eye and made me think.
They made me think that this too will pass. These days of uncertainty, when many of us are fearful of what the immediate future might hold, will pass. The Dublin daffodils, stand together in groups to give each other mutual support. They dare to wear their bright finery while we are still in the grip of cold winds. Their whisper remains as it ever was. They say that even when everything goes dark, when nothing looks as it was, when we are unsure as to how to carry on, we must hold onto hope. We must stand together and encourage each other. And we must never lose the belief that better days are ahead.
So, when it seems like we are all paralysed by the current crisis, when it seems that our world has stopped and our lives have been forced into some kind of weird holding pattern, we need to see and to listen to the daffodils. They tell us that all is not as we might think. Beyond our awareness, this planet we call home is still turning, so that day still follows night and in time it will also deliver our summer. And so, while we support each other through these uncharted waters and do what we need to do to stay safe and well, we need to remember that this time will pass. And all will be well. The daffodils tell us so.