Photo of Emma Lanigan

Emma Lanigan

By her Mum Anitha

Emma was born on her due date, 1st June 2010, our second daughter. She was a tomboy, loved rough and tumble and dresses didn’t suit her at all, unlike her older sister Katie. She was happy and content and loved a bit of divilment. We always said that her eyes would tell the story, you could tell exactly what she was after doing just by the look in her eyes. People thought she had been here before, she had a great understanding of everything for her young age. Herself and Katie were great friends.  


Emma was healthy until she was 13 months, when we noticed that her tummy was slightly swollen and she was off her food. Our GP wasn’t concerned but told us to come back if we weren’t happy.  


Her tummy became more distended and we noticed that, when she lightly hit her leg off one of us in the bed, she got really upset. Looking back, we realise that she slept a lot in the weeks leading up to her diagnosis. We brought her to hospital in Kilkenny and they found abnormalities in her blood tests and then found a mass in her tummy.  


Emma had a tumour on her left ovary and we were transferred to Crumlin, where they found a second tumour on her pituitary gland. In Crumlin they would find 14 tumours altogether from the top of her head to her arms and legs. They told us that Emma’s diagnosis was terminal and that conversation was horrendous. I remember thinking that I’d ask how long she had and then I said, no don’t ask. You’re so torn because you want to know the answer but you don’t want to know at the same time. Aidan’s phone rang in the middle of it and he got up and answered it, which I thought was crazy at the time, but he said afterwards that he had to, that he couldn’t stay in that room a moment longer. 


We stayed in Crumlin for two weeks and then just felt that we needed to be at home. We wanted Emma to be surrounded by family so we went home and that’s when the palliative care team stepped in. They were amazing, they came every few days and they were often there for us more than for Emma. Emma was afraid of the colour blue, as that was the colour the nurses in Crumlin wore at the time. The first time the Doctor from the homecare team visited, the nurse told him about this and he changed to make sure that Emma was as comfortable as possible during that visit.  


Emma got chemo from July 2011 to October, when they found two more tumours. However, she responded really well to the chemo so she was able to get more from October to December of that year. She was so well that Christmas. She was back walking and up to mischief.  


When Emma was sick and she’d hear Aidan’s keys in the door, no matter how bad a day she’d had, she’d pat the couch for him to sit beside her. She didn’t like people to touch her then, but she’d always let Aidan. 


At the end of January she started to go downhill and on 18th February at 1.50am, with myself and Aidan beside her and her big sister Katie asleep in the next room, Emma passed away. We had a couple of hours just the three of us after she passed away and before the nurse arrived.  


We have six children, including Emma – Katie, Emma, Richie, Ruth and twins Laura and Ned. The younger four have never met Emma. Katie says that she doesn’t remember much from that time. We have never really consciously told them about Emma, it just happens automatically. Emma’s pictures are where they always were and we talk about her all the time. They argue over which one of them has the same eyes as Emma (she had one brown and one green). They wonder amongst themselves if Santa goes to Heaven and what Emma will get. They always include her in games and leave a place for her. 


Emma had a favourite teddy named Bear and we had four of them to make sure there was always one on the go if one needed to be washed. When Emma died, one teddy went with her, one to her Godparents Paula and Martin and Katie kept one. Katie always takes that teddy to bed with her.  


Riche was born in the December after Emma died and when he came along, he preoccupied our minds. He always says that he met Emma and that’s a comfort for him. He looks like her and we used to think that it was like having a part of Emma back, it brought us comfort.  


Milestones are hard, communions and things like that, because Emma missed out on so much. She never started pre-school, she didn’t have her first haircut. Richie was double digits in December and Emma never got that.  


Friends and family set up a tractor run in Emma’s name and that ran for years, until Covid, and it helped to keep her name alive. Emma is the Queen Bee on the South East regional Bumbleance and the kids love that. 


It’s been 11 years now and it’s nice that she’s not forgotten. Family always put something on the grave. Even in the community, she’s not forgotten and people remember what she was like, which really means a lot to us.  

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