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Grace: A Life of Broken Promises

IMG_5359Greg Howard A candle burns in a makeshift alcove where Grace Farrell died Feb. 20.

Twelve days ago, the frozen body of my childhood friend Grace Farrell was found on a few sheets of cardboard in an alcove at St. Brigid’s Catholic Church on Avenue B in the East Village. It was a tragic end to a sad and troubled life.

Mary Grace Farrell came into my life when she was barely seven years old and I was 16. I grew up in Saint Vincent’s, a children’s home run by the Daughters of Charity in Drogheda, Ireland, and it was there that Grace spent three relatively happy years.

Grace was a beautiful and engaging child with a bright, sunny disposition. She was warm and affectionate and full of fun. She smiled often and loved to laugh, deeply. In many respects she was a normal child, though her early years were anything but.

Being born to a young, unmarried couple in 1970’s Ireland would make for a difficult life. Grace’s mother, realizing this, faced a Solomon’s choice of sorts. She could keep her baby and face that lonely and uncertain road together or she could give her up for adoption in the hope of a better chance. She bravely chose the latter path.
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