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Monday 23 October 2017

'The pain in my heart is unbearable' - Emma's mum speaks of terrible loss

27 Mar 2015; Mother Caroline Sloan, centre, with daughter Amy, right, and sister Susan Sloan, pictured after the Coroner's Court inquest into Emma Sloan's death in 2013. Store Street, Dublin. Pictue: Caroline Quinn
27 Mar 2015; Mother Caroline Sloan, centre, with daughter Amy, right, and sister Susan Sloan, pictured after the Coroner's Court inquest into Emma Sloan's death in 2013. Store Street, Dublin. Pictue: Caroline Quinn

Caroline Sloan has opened up about her heartbreak over the death of her beloved daughter Emma.

Ms Sloan prepared a statement for the Dublin coroner's court in which she has laid bare her grief.

The court could not facilitate it being read out in full due to time constraints.

The Herald is now publishing what she had to say about Emma who died in December 2013, after suffering a fatal allergic reaction to a nut sauce.

These are Caroline's own words:

"Emma Louise Sloan was born in the Coombe Hospital on January 28, 1999.

"Emma was a very lovable child. She had a big warm heart and was very, very clever. She excelled in primary school, coming home every Friday with top marks. She never got a spelling or a sum wrong.

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"Her school reports say what a pleasure she was to teach and how she had a natural flair for art; this would really shine through in her later years.

"She loved going on school trips and would always sit on the back of the bus and wave until you couldn't see her anymore.

"She never let her asthma prevent her from doing anything. Emma loved camogie and played for Good Counsel. She even won player of the year. When she left, the coaches came up to our house asking her to go back. She had plans to go back in January 2014.

READ MORE: 'I knew she was dead' - Mum tells of efforts to save daughter after fatal reaction to nut sauce

"When Emma became a teenager she blossomed into a beautiful woman, not only on the outside but inside as well. She used to joke and say 'Thank God for puberty'.

"Emma was far from perfect. We spent many a day at loggerheads over the most ridiculous things. What parent doesn't with their teenager, but overall, we had a really good relationship.

"Emma loved clothes, make-up and music. She had a natural flair for make-up and putting an outfit together.

"Emma wouldn't wear clothes out of popular high street shops. She would shop in vintage shops and car boot sales and still look a million dollars walking out the door. Her biggest dream was to become a make-up artist, a dream I'm sure she would have easily achieved.

"Her nanny had promised to pay for her college course if she stayed in school and completed her Leaving Cert, this gave Emma the incentive to work harder in school but she didn't even get to sit her Junior Cert.

"Emma had a very kind heart. She would hate to see the homeless on the streets. She wouldn't pass them and she wouldn't let us pass them either. Many a day Emma gave her bus fare to the homeless with the intention of walking home, but typically Emma would ring when she was half way home looking for a lift because she was tired.

"Emma loved going out with her friends to concerts and parties. She was so wise beyond her years and had such a strong spirit that I never tried to control or stifle her huge appetite for life. I'm so glad now that I didn't.

"Emma had so many friends for a 14-year-old girl. The turnout of over 3,000 people at her funeral is a testament to how loved she is. The effect of Emma's death has been devastating for all of her friends, teenage children who never had to deal with death before are inconsolable. They are still in counselling and will never get over the finality of never seeing their friend again.

"My mother is 82-years-old, she was like a mother to Emma - we all lived together until Emma was 12. She has lost a lot in her life, including her husband and most of her siblings.

"She has always been the strongest woman I know, has always picked herself up and carried on for the sake of her family. She idolised Emma and cannot come back from this loss. She is a broken woman.

"My sister Susan was also like a mother to Emma. She took her on day trips and holidays. She treated her like her own child. The stress of Emma's death has brought back to Susan an illness that had been under control for years. She is also a broken woman.

"There is five years between Amy and Emma. They got along great and shared a room together, they always had great fun together. Amy could not go back into that room after Emma died. She didn't go outside the door for over a year because she didn't want to enjoy life because Emma isn't here to share it with her. Amy is only 21 and will never fully enjoy anything again. She is heartbroken.

DREAMS

"Mia is only three, it's hard to know the effects Emma's death will have on her. I do know she remembers Emma and she sings Twinkle Twinkle Little Star to her. She also points to the stars at night and says there's Emma. I will make sure Mia always knows what a shining star her sister is.

"I should have proudly looked on as Emma completed her Junior and Leaving Certificates, as she fulfilled all her hopes and dreams of going to college, of her wedding day, her first house and her children, my grandchildren, but these are no longer Emma's dreams, they are my dreams of what could and should have been.

"For me, Emma's mother, it is easy to describe the pain of others, because every day I am looking at the devastation of Emma's loss on those around me. To try and describe my own pain is the hardest part of all.

"Some days when I wake, for a split second I forget. Then as realisation hits me, I can't breathe, the pain in my heart is unbearable, I still cannot believe that this existence is my life.

"I have travelled back to that night so many times, I try to contemplate what could have been different.

"Then I see Emma, my beautiful, bright, bubbly, full-of-life Emma, just lying there, cold and lifeless, having to identify my child's body to the guards, this image will never leave me. It will stay with me forever.

"Emma died exactly one week before Christmas. She loved Christmas and was looking forward to a new iPhone, even though I told her she couldn't have one, she knew she would get it.

"Emma has missed two Christmases and two birthdays in just one year, her sweet 16 was January 28, that was hard to bear. Emma's presents still sit, unopened in our home. I no longer celebrate Christmas or birthdays, Mother's Day or Easter, nothing is worth doing without Emma here to do it with us. We are all agreed on this as a family.

"No mother should experience the death of her child, it is not the natural order of life. The hardest part for us in all of this, is the fact that Emma could so easily have been saved. Had she died from an illness or a car accident, we could, maybe in time learn some form of acceptance.

"But we can never accept how easily she could have been saved," the statement said.

hnews@herald.ie

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