While I was up in Auburn last week, there was a death in Hackham West due to domestic violence. It has been a hard time for everyone, coming to grips with what has happened right next door to us, and thinking about the life Jacqueline will not now live, and all the time her children and the rest of her dear ones will not have her near them.
There was a memorial vigil held in the community to mark her life and acknowledge what has happened which I have heard about from some of those involved and also from the tv, where it was on the news. Megan from the DV Service and Richard from CHO (and also a resident), were the main organisers. People from the local community and Jacqueline’s family met at a local park, and then walked and took flowers to place outside her home -the place she died.
There were speakers and tears, media coverage and lots of sadness. I saw what was on tv, and was struck by the open heartedness of what everyone said, the poignancy of the messages about neighbourliness, mothering, love and creating peace. There was a sense of kindness and softness, and of respect, as well as the pain of loss and of it being too late to make a difference for this woman. There was a sense that what are often ‘just statistics’ had been made more real and human for those of us like me who were watching on tv, a step removed.
Sudden death is always a shock, and domestic violence related deaths perhaps more so, in their ripping away at the hope all of us have for love, connection and happiness in our families and at home. Some of the relief that is gained through events such as that which took place last Thursday comes I think from the opportunity to be real with others in our sadness, to reach out, to comfort and to be soothed by each other. To see examples of people being kind to each other in the face of grief and violence is surely a way to move (step by small step) towards a more peaceful culture.
I was particularly struck by hearing about the presence of the children from the kindy that Jacqueline’s children have been going to. They all turned up in a bus, carrying sunflowers for their playmates’ mum. How moving this must have been for the family and the neighbourhood folk. How powerful for those little ones to bring bright flowers, petals filled with life and colour, like the vivid, soft, vulnerable life in all of us, and the preciousness of what we have and what we have lost.