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We Are All Love

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Last Monday morning many of us grabbed a cup of coffee or a hot chocolate (in my case) on the way to work without a second thought. As did sixteen mothers, grandfathers, brothers, sisters, daughters, sons in Sydney who found themselves caught up in the clutches of a madman in the Lindt Cafe. A couple of days later a mother killed seven of her children and a niece all under the age of fifteen in Cairns. Meanwhile, around the world similar tragedies are taking place—including the massacre of 145 teachers and children in Pakistan.

In these moments, the country—the world—takes a collective gasp, united by our outrage at the killers and the reminder of our own mortality—a reminder that is not always delivered by murderers, but also by cancer, by car accidents, by suicides.

The first death I experienced was the death of my grandfather—practically a rite of passage for young kids. I was eleven and devastated by the loss of such a gentle man who spoiled me with ice cream and pink lemonade. The next death was when I was a teenager. It was my first (and so far only) open casket funeral. Then came the death of my grandmother when I was in my twenties (on my birthday). I sat with her body for an hour or so and kissed her cold cheek. A few years later we lost my step-father to cancer. I was holding one hand and my mum was holding the other.  And then last year, we lost my father-in-law. Suddenly and unexpectedly and oh-so-unfairly.

I have also experienced my fair share of fictional deaths which have hit me (perhaps not quite so) hard and left me in tears—BROTHER NIGHT by Victor Kelleher got me when I was around eleven years old, then there was HARRY POTTER (a few of the books) by JK Rowling, TUCK EVERLASTING by Natalie Babbitt and SLEEPING DOGS by Sonya Hartnett (beware—I still bear a scar from the ending of this novel). I was once on a panel at a writer’s festival about the role of the author in censorship. The consensus of the panel was that books were at least a safe space for readers to be introduced to the realities of violence, incest, and—of course—death.

We all are (or will be) scarred— and every time our lives are touched by another death these scars split open—privately, publicly, individually, collectively. These scars may heal again with time and a lot of love—a hug from a loved one or even a stranger, heartfelt messages in sympathy cards, and loving memories of those who left us behind. And while they cannot compare to the death of a family member or friend, fictional characters are understandably not as straight forward to mourn—there are no funerals and often no closure, which is why I applaud forums like GOODREADS. This need to connect with each other in times of grief is a reminder that WE ARE ALL HUMAN and WE ALL NEED TO LOVE AND BE LOVED.

I think Australian singer/songwriter Wes Carr said it best with a song he penned and recorded the morning after the death of two of the Lindt Cafe hostages and the gunman, called I PRAY. I urge everyone to listen to it on his Facebook. Here are some of the lyrics: We are all LOVE; Unconditional LOVE; Let’s get together and LOVE; Got to remember LOVE.

Every now and then I just like to ramble. Actually, I go off on tangents A LOT. In fact, the other day I went to the shops. You know the small shops, near the playground? Hey, did you hear they found a chicken turtle in the pond there last week (yes, it exists just like the screaming hairy armadillo) and… where was I? Anyway, you can read all of my random rambles here.

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