I am still wiping away the tears and begging for it not to be true.
My friend Lyra McKee was murdered in the streets of Derry on Thursday night. She was reporting on the riots in the city, when she was shot.
Lyra and I go back 5 years. She first came to my attention on Twitter, when a mutual friend Catherine Muldoon put us in touch. She knew us both and thought we would click and click we did.
We were both geeky nerds and we shared many stories about what we watched and read. Lyra was always trying to get me into her first love Harry Potter, but I was yet to indulge her.
But what really connected us, was our shared need for social equality and thrive to find what we as people have in common and not what separates us.
Lyra always felt and said to me that myself in the disability community and herself in the LGBT community shared a lot of the same pain and fight to be accepted by the world around us. We would spend many a nights chatting on the phone about this until 3am. She was there on the phone when I needed someone to cry to and I was there when she needed to cry.
Three years ago, I wrote a blog about Romance for people with disabilities and how I find it incredibly difficult. Lyra contributed to it, with her experience of a young gay woman from Belfast.
“I plucked up the courage to ask a woman out recently – or so I thought. It took me weeks to do it. It was only afterwards that I realised I was so ambiguous in how I said it that she probably didn’t even realise I was asking her out on a date. Inside, I still have the fears that 13 year old me had – of asking the wrong person (someone who is straight) out and them being completely disgusted. It’s completely illogical and it’s my problem but that’s what a lifetime of being ashamed of who you are does to you. Even after you come out, even when everyone tells you it’s okay to be okay, you still carry that fear around in the pit of your stomach, of exposing yourself too much by letting someone know you like them.”
But Lyra did meet someone last year, the love of her life, Sara Canning. 2018 was a difficult year for me and Lyra and I didn’t see each other, but we were always in contact, but just Saturday, she drove to Omagh to meet me and introduce me to Sara. In all the time I have known Lyra, i have never seen her so happy. She was enjoying life and saw so much potential in her future.
Lyra saw so much in everyone she met, she wanted to help them in anyway she could. When someone greets you by asking you how you are, we are used to rhyming of generic responses, but Lyra wouldn’t let you go until she got the real and deep answers. She was interested in people and genuinely cared after their wellbeing.
My life was made better by knowing Lyra and by calling her my close friend.
Last Saturday, we hugged, said we loved each other and waved goodbye.
Goodbye Lyra ❤️