Moving On

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IMG_2458I need to say thank you. Thank you to the many friends who have left comments, given their encouragement, and assisted with their support of this project which I began in 2010 calling it the 10 City Bridge Run.

There is a period soon after the death of someone who was close to you which is an awkward period. At least, I find it awkward. Awkward because it is time to get back into ‘business as usual’, begin again to focus and work hard, but you know in yourself that there is still some grieving to be done.

I know that it is far from business as usual. Yesterday, I found myself with a particularly short fuse over an incident which was trivial. That was an indicator that all was not as it should be.

Here, I am talking about my brother. On a personal level, I have dedicated the remainder of this journey to honouring my brother’s legacy and in doing so to live out his last words to me: “stay there and keep doing what you are doing.” I don’t want to labour the point. I am not a victim. Life must go on.

It is somewhat surreal to have a personal experience overtaken by external events. The personal experience I am referring to is reconciling the death of my brother with the interruption that came from the extremely tragic incident of the Lindt siege in Sydney, and to a lesser degree the ever-increasing Christmas-paraphenalia that fills the pages of emails and Facebook posts. It is an observation, not a complaint.

It mirrors to some extent the experience following the destruction of MH17. A sad event by any measure, made more poignant by a personal connection with my uncle and his three grandchildren aboard. Shortly after that event, the media were tracking down relatives to interview, and with a relentless pursuit. Hungry for a story compounded by the time-sensitive nature of a story.

I discussed the approaches I had received from the media with some family members after the MH17 had been reported, and argued that I ought to engage with them so as to protect those family members who were closer to the loss. Give the media what they want and little more. With the family’s permission, I contacted a couple of media leads who had been chasing me.

It is a funny experience to be chased by the media. One minute, you are invisible. Then the world changes, and the resources they will deploy to get their man are remarkable. Quite an industry.

Within 12 hours of agreeing to an interview, I was on CNN. Within 24 hours, I was speaking with an Australian TV channel, SkyNews, and had a direct line to Anderson Cooper where we had a personal chit-chat. Credit where it is due, they were all very sensitive to the loss. but also with a pragmatic focus to get what they needed. An impressive machine.

In that regard, I feel some sympathy for the other hostages in the Lindt Cafe. They will largely go unseen, melt back into the community, except that they won’t. They will forever be affected by that experience, knowing that it could have been them that was killed, or maybe if they had done something differently that somehow no life might have been lost. They are the ones that know the real story. The story from their perspective.

I wonder what they make of the sea of flowers in Martin Place, that today are being collected, and then disposed in such a way as to hold that special tribute that those many bunches together came to represent. I wonder what they make of that selfie a friend of mine took when standing in line to lay his wreath with his steely look of resolve that seemed to make no sense aside from a misplaced sense of patriotism, and I wonder what they will make of my friend’s need to then post the photo on Facebook. We are a society made up of many people, and it is an interesting dynamic.

There were many people working in Sydney last Monday close to Martin Place. Many people who have been in that cafe before. Many people whose lives had previously grazed across the path of those two people killed in somewhat-unknown circumstances in the cafe. All of these people have feelings, and everyone who was laying flowers were joining to share their feelings too.

Meanwhile, today and everyday around 16,000 children will die, and many from preventable causes That is a fact. It is not a contest. It does show that media and corporate communications are awesome forces at work in our lives. We are so affected by these forces that we don’t even register the influence.

In light of the Lindt coverage, I felt somehow less entitled to share my grief about my brother. Self-censorship is the worst outcome from fear of public criticism. Legitimacy is an interesting subject, and an arena for much ethical deliberation.

We don’t just move on. We take the past with us, and it shapes us. I have resolved not to be apologetic about asking for support to honour the legacy of my brother. It is my story, it is a story of hope, and in that regard it is a narrative that we can all share. Please share the link below, even if you can’t make a contribution. Please share it because it is a message of hope, and please share it because your kindness is something I value. Thank you.


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