We have all experienced the warmth and support friendships bring when we have a setback.
A friend once wrote me a cheque for $50,000 when I needed it most. I did not ask. He just handed me the cheque and said; “Will this help?” That kindness saved me from losing my farm, and he was paid back with interest within a year.
But it is not that sort of help we need when we have suffered the loss of a loved one, particularly if his/her death is sudden and even more so if he/she was murdered.
We get calls of condolence immediately, and many friends come to the funeral so we feel supported then. We have a service of some kind where we express our grief in the presence of friends and family then we all go home, the less connected put it behind them and get on with their lives.
But in these extreme cases, where there are questions left over, some of criminal culpability but more important to us are the questions that arise as we revisit any action of our own that might have contributed, no matter how minor, to the situation that allowed the tragedy to happen.
That is the time we need our friends to come around, prod us into talking and to listen. Questions may need to be asked; “What is worrying you most? Do you think you should have done more/done it differently/done it sooner?” The answer in most cases should be ‘yes’ but is sometimes is denied for now, but if it is yes, the next question must be; “OK so what do you think you could have done?” That should get it started, but what then?
There is no value in saying things like; ‘You are not to blame, it would have happened anyway, he/she brought it on him/herself, it was the lifestyle he/she chose etc’. All those ready excuses will only make the guilt worse. We would like to grab onto them, but we can’t.
Friends and relatives suffer the pain of hindsight; opportunities that were not recognised at the time, words said that can never be withdrawn, appeals ignored through anger or resentment. All the real or imagined shortcomings are paraded past, newly clarified and accusing.
What is needed is an opportunity to confess all those guilty thoughts to a significant adult, someone who has the power to judge but loves us enough to understand, so the anguish and remorse can be expressed fully, with the freedom to cry, wail and blubber as many times as necessary to get it all out. But that takes time.
A good friend will call around every day if necessary, call on the phone if unable to provide a physical presence, and remind others of what is needed and even organise the team. Funerals are over in a day but grieving takes a little longer.
Image by courtesy http://www.stockfreeimages.com/p1/empty-chair.html
Yesterday I was waiting in a queue at a fruit shop check out when I received a call from Julia (daughter and hero) to read me a letter she had received from her brother David. The letter was so full of love that I got a bit teary.
I did notice the young lady watching me, so I signed off as I reached her.
She asked if I was OK, and as she packed the groceries, I replied that I had just been read a letter from a son who died last week.
All packed, l turned to leave, but in my confusion, had not paid. She called after me the amount and I was so embarrassed to have been so absent minded, I must have looked totally lost.!
As I paid, she asked me what was wrong, so I told her I was a bit preoccupied, thinking about the funeral tomorrow (now today).
Then when I was a few metres down the mall, I heard her call to me again.
As I turned, she ran up and handed me a beautiful jam roll cake.
She pressed it into my hands and kissed me on the cheek then whispered; "This is for after the funeral" and she was gone! I had never been to that shop before and had never met her, so the tears started over again.
I just though you would like to know this.
An arrest has been made and I spent last evening making a statement to police detectives, who were not only smart, but were gentle and patient. Considering what they see every day, they manage to remain caring and compassionate, and as Julia, the lead detective said, in this case they got lucky.
The good luck began with CCTV being on the spot and a suspect identified as a person who had already come to 'the attention police' that night. His home was searched and he was taken into custody where he remains, having been refused bail.
A witness called an ambulance for David, but that is where the luck ended. Despite a bleeding head wound and, as later discovered, a brain haemorrhage, he was not examined by a doctor at the hospital, despite a wait of over three hours after which he left, probably in frustration and needing a smoke, and died in a park across the road.
There are a lot of questions being asked and few being answered.
Now for some Easter pictures.
The camera does not show how close they are, or how many there are! The cabin roof in the first pic is of Swan Song, IXL's old wooden boat, soon to be sold. She has been tied alongside for a month so I can access 240V power for sanders etc, but the work is almost done. Then she goes onto the slips for a clean and antifoul, then out of Yeomans Bay and into E-bay!
Arriving home late last night (I take a dinghy ride of about a kilometre from the tie-up to Heavy Metal) I was greeted by a fairyland of lights. This morning, daylight revealed over fifty yachts and cruisers jammed into a space that usually sees about five!
Perfect weather and the long weekend has drawn every boat that floats to Cowan Creek it seems.
IXL is at Mosman Market today selling her hand-made fashion garments but tonight she will visit and we will be joined by Neil and Heather in Tiki for a BBQ and catch up.
That is what I need right now; good company and a break from drama!
Jimmy Little, singer songwriter and gentleman, was a very important figure in race relations in Australia.
He was loved in every household, black, white and brindle while the government was still 'stealing' mixed race children from their mothers.
He was a successful recording artist because he possessed such a pretty voice but live audiences loved him because he loved them. His mate Brendon on Radio National this afternoon talked about his stagecraft but I would have to ask him to explain what he meant. Stagecraft suggests to me some degree of manipulation of the audience but Jimmy never did that. He did not sing to them as much as sing with them. He shared the stage with his audience as if they were all at a camp fire sing along.
His death from complications following a kidney transplant was announced this afternoon, so I hope a repeat of this post is appropriate. I played on one record with him in 1963, but we shared the stage at a hundred live performances and Jimmy, if anyone deserves for the Royal Telephone to be answered, it is you.
Jimmy was a special human being and I am honoured to have known him. Here is my tribute as it appeared on this blog for Australia day, 2011.
Now, using wealth
gathered from less fortunate men,
from coal and iron
the transient artefacts
we can pay others to 'fix it',
if we want.
Or we can look
into every eye
our common heritage
with love and respect,
and return it.
But, as in ‘The greatest love of all’,
It is our children
who ‘lead the way’.
Raised in schools
where so many faces of races
our children already
live the agenda
Citizens of our Accidental Multicultural Society.
Dedicated with love and appreciation to Australian Aboriginal musician and activist Jimmy Little, an 'accidental bridge builder', and his feisty wife Marge, the ‘power behind the throne’. PS. I heard yesterday that Marge died a few months ago... and Jimmy would have wanted to go with her, so he did.
Still struggling a bit with the poem but don't we all! Tall ships pic courtesy National Library.
Pa Magpie, somewhat of a mouse,
Was scared of his wife, the old rouse,
And followed her rules;
To take off his shoes
Before he came into the house!
Then the pose suggested something completely different....
‘Pa Magpie’, she called. ‘Are you free?’
‘I need you to come here to me!’
She sounded quite terse;
But he answered in verse:
“Please wait, I am having a pee!”
PS. Thank you everyone who contacted me over the last few days, by comments, mail and phone. It doesn't stop the anguish but it lessens it and that is the best anyone can do. The tide of tears is on the way out.
Visit the home of Ma and Pa Magpie to see more eggs hatching.