Sarah Corbett Lynch’s personal story has its origins in great tragedy. At 12 weeks old she lost her mother, Margaret Fitzpatrick (31), to an asthma attack. Eight years later in 2015, having moved to the US to start a new life, her father Jason Corbett (39) was murdered by her step-mother Molly Martens, and her father Tom Martens. Following a distressing custody battle Sarah and her brother Jack then moved back to Ireland to live with her aunt and extended family. Life was turned upside down.
Sarah and her Aunt Tracey joined Ryan Tubridy live in studio to discuss their blended family, the importance of having a good cry and how helpful it can be to share your story with others. Recalling her initial return to Ireland, having been uprooted from everything that was familiar, Sarah described feeling a particular sting around people’s perception of her family.
“At first it was really hard because a lot of people didn’t see my family as a real family because we weren’t blood family. That was the hardest thing for me, because it’s not really about blood to me, it’s more about love.”
Ryan wondered whether, at 8 years old, Sarah was able to comprehend what had happened to her dad.
“I didn’t understand it at the time, but I knew if I wanted to know something I could just ask Tracey and David. I didn’t really want to know all the details, so I just left it until I was a bit older and then I started asking questions.”
Sarah’s attitude to her grief is impressive. She embraces the pain when it comes and finds ways to express it that work for her. Ryan asked her what advice she’d give to other people going through the same feelings.
“It’s really helpful if you just cry about it, it gets a load lifted off you if you just cry. Everybody has their thing, like mine was singing and writing, and it just helped me to express myself in ways I couldn’t do when I was speaking. It really helped me like if I needed to sing, I could sing very loud and I wouldn’t sound like I was screaming.”
Screaming and disguising it as singing. Ouch. Ryan wasn’t sure if this was brilliant or sad. Sarah was clear.
“It’s both because in a way it helps you to just let it all go, instead of bottling it all up and then exploding.”
Writing also became a great way for Sarah to let her thoughts and feelings out in a way that felt safe and positive for her. She never really had ideas of publishing her work, it was more an exercise in self-expression. Then, overtime, she became aware that other kids also live with loss or trauma, and perhaps sharing her story could help them. The ‘Boogawooga’ series was born. One of Sarah’s favourite memories of her dad inspired the title.
“My dad used to come downstairs every morning and when I would come down he would go ‘booga-wooga-wooga’ and it always put a smile on my face and it started the day with everyone having a smile on their face going to school, it was just great.”
On the eve of the Late Late Toy Show, which is set to focus on family in all its forms, Sarah’s story is one to warm the coldest of hearts. As artistic as she is altruistic (receiving awards for volunteering in her local community), Sarah is a child any family would be proud to call their own.
“I just feel very at home when I’m around everybody because we have such a big family that when everyone’s together you just feel so loved, it’s really lovely.”
You can listen to Ryan’s interview with Sarah and Tracey in full, here.
The first book in the Boogawooga series, ‘Noodle Loses Dad’ is out on Monday 2nd December, find out more at www.sarahcorbettlynch.com
Jan Ní Fhlanagáin
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