It's my Dad's birthday on Sunday and he'll be 77 this year, a very young 77 but 77 nonetheless. He has seen his two children grow from babies into teenagers and into adults. He has welcomed two grand children who adore him as much as I did from their age and lived a long, sometimes hard, but very full life.
When you see someone you love grow older and see their body begin to age and cause them pain your first thought is to feel bad for them, I certainly hate seeing either of my parents in pain and would do anything to match their bodies to their active minds.
But what I realised this week is they don't deserve pity, their situation is enviable. When I read Ralph Kelly's interview about what he and his family are going through, it became patently clear that people who don't outlive their children are the luckiest people alive. Like Ralph Kelly I have two sons. Before I was a parent I knew the bond between child and parent was strong from own love for my parents, but I had no idea the intensity of a parents' love. It is an out of this world adoration so intense that your heart breaks daily at the slightest hint of something taking this being, this extension of you, away. It is a haunting love not matched by any romantic entanglement. Once you meet a human that you happened to create you can forgo most things if you are granted one thing and that is to know them for as long as you can and see them happy and settled one day with their own family.
|Grieving parents ... Kathy and Ralph Kelly Photo: Steve Christo|
Thomas Kelly's parents said goodbye to their son after only 18 years on Monday. When I found out I was standing in a cafe waiting for my morning coffee and my heart broke. Tears ran down my cheeks at what I know would be the worst agony a parent can suffer. The strength to turn off life support and the selflessness to donate his organs make them stronger people than I can imagine I would be. His father said today that they don't know how they will continue and all I can hope for them that they will and they will receive the love and support they need to continue and survive the worst grief imaginable.
I don't know these people, but I know that every parent in the world gasped with horror when they read what the Kelly's have been senselessly put through. When I look at the smiling face of Thomas Kelly with eyes full of hopes and dreams that have been stolen away by a sadistic and damaged moron, I am horrified that is murderer is still enjoying breathing in and out, while Thomas no longer can.
Sadly this is not a one-off horror, and victims of this type of mindless violence have inspired the charity Step back and think to be formed to educate young men about the danger of a single punch. You can read more here http://www.stepbackthink.org/ Unfortunately the message did not reach Thomas Kelly's killer in time to save his young life, but maybe it will save my boys or yours one day in the future.
From one family to another, our hearts goes out to the Kelly family.
Love and strength to you all in your loss of Thomas.