Dedicated to my father and to every single person who has been there for Dylan, my Mum and I.
On this day 4 years ago I lost my Dad to suicide.
It was the most painful day of my life, but it turned out to be one of the most joy filled days I have ever experienced.
I had spent that morning with one of my best mates getting breakfast and getting some sun at the beach before we were to get dressed up and head to the races, it was going to be an awesome day!
We were on our way through his house when I got a message from a friend telling me her dad Kevin needed to speak with me urgently. Now her father was a police officer so my thoughts went straight to my antics of a few nights earlier where I was involved in a bit of drama at the local night club, I actually thought I might be in some kind of trouble so I called her and asked if she knew what he needed to speak to me about. She said he couldn’t give me any details and that he just needed to speak with me urgently.
I gave him a call and told him where I was and that I’d wait for him to come by, I even asked if it had anything to with the nightclub incident. He just said he would talk to me when he got there.
I told Dann the cops were coming to have a chat and we joked that maybe I was in trouble.
Kevin arrived accompanied by another policeman, Dave who I knew from the football club I was in and this was the first moment that I had a sinking feeling in my stomach. I thought “what are the chances that two officers who are friends of mine would be coming together to tell me I was in trouble?”
I still asked if it had anything to do with the nightclub. Kevin said, “No, its about your dad”. I said “he’s dead isn’t he?”, yes was the answer. I asked “Suicide?” and was met with a nod from Kevin.
In this moment I actually felt the urge to hit him but I couldn’t do that, I knew how hard it must have been for him to be the one to tell me and I just hugged him. I shook Dave’s hand and thanked them both for being the ones to tell me. Then I went inside to see Dann and I told him my dad was gone, he hugged me and I fought back the tears, the clenched fists and the sniffles. It was a feeling of sadness, helplessness and absolute rage, I didn’t know whether to cry or to break something and I ended up doing neither and became silent. The officers didn’t leave, they asked me where my younger brother was because he needed to be notified to. I told them I would be the one to tell him, not anyone else.
Dylan had a game of football that day and I knew the team would just be starting the warm up so I called the vice president of the club who was a family friend and asked if he could get Dylan out of the warm up as I’d be there soon and needed to speak with him. Brett had known our family ever since I could remember and he lived in the street behind where it happened that morning, he’d heard the police sirens and everything else over the street and he had a feeling he knew what it was about and asked if it was to with my dad.
I got to the oval and was met by Brett with a hug, he told me Dylan was waiting for me. I hurried over to him waiting impatiently to get back into the warm up for our game. But when he saw me, I think he realised it was something terrible.
I told him it was about Dad, that he had died and I was met with “was it suicide?”. We hugged and I said I was staying with him, no matter what he wanted to do. He said he wanted to play the game and I was all for it. I wish I could have played that game, but I was out for the season with a knee injury. I decided I would run water for the game just so i could be out one the field with him.
We made our way over to the team area and everyone knew something was going on. We come from a small town and pretty much all the people involved in our footy team had been long time friends of ours, so we were met with more hugs, handshakes, pats on the back and are you ok’s. I went out to the warm up group with Dylan and we stood among our team mates while they were stretching and told them about our dad passing that morning and we asked if they’d mind wearing black arm bands to honour him, they were more than happy to and this was the first moment that our day was a little brighter.
Our team wasn’t doing too great that year, but I told them it would be good to get a win for our dad. This got the boys fired up even though we were about to face the top of the ladder team.
The opposing teams coach Brett had coached both my brother and I in different regional teams and his team was filled with more of our friends and people we had known almost our whole lives. He heard about our dad and got their team to also wear black arm bands for our dad and he came over to speak with us and let us know. This was the second moment where our day got a little bit brighter.
I ran the water best I could with my busted knee, and tried to remain as close to my brother on the field as I could. Each quarter break we found each other and just hugged and talked about it. He said he was glad he was out on the field, cause it gave him something to think about, he didn’t want the game to end he said.
The boys ended up getting beaten pretty badly, much to our amusement given the circumstances. At the end of the game the opposing team joined ours on the boundary line and their coach shared a few words on our behalf. This was the third moment of light for me on that day.
After all was done at the footy Dylan and I headed home where we were greeted in our living room by a great group of our friends who had heard about our dad and wanted to see us. This was the fourth moment of light. There wasn’t much talk at first, Dylan and I were both worn out mentally he was probably physically drained as well. Eventually we all started talking about the fond memories everyone had of our dad. He was somewhat of a second father to a lot of the boys. He was that dad who knew all the mischief we got up to but never dobbed anyone into their parents. We talked about the times he would cook for us when we were struggling on a Sunday, the times we would meet him on our nights at the pub, the times he would try to keep up with us at the pub, the times he’d take us out fishing or camping, the times he would get out of bed in his jocks to tell everyone to be quiet at our house parties and just about every other embarrassing story the boys had about him. This was the fifth moment of light.
The boys offered Dylan and I a beer, but we couldn’t yet even think about having a drink. We both looked like we’d been drinking all day, our eyes were red from the tears and we were just worn out.
Word had got around about dad and more friends came to our house, we had started calling and texting some people who wouldn’t yet know and there was one friend who really did see my dad like another father. Reece lived over 2 hours away in the next town, but without hesitation he told me “I’ll see you soon”. This was the sixth moment of light on my day, he drove straight to Broome to be with us that night.
By the time he arrived we had decided to go out and celebrate dad and we had quite the crew joining us. We let all our friends know where we would be going and everyone was welcome to join us. The seventh moment of light and probably one of my fondest memories of that day was when we all arrived at the bar and everyone joined Dylan and I in a giant circle, each of us holding a can of our dad’s favourite drink, XXXX Gold. Dylan and I thanked them all for being the best mates we could have asked for and we all drank in a toast to our dad.
Our Dad may not have realised just how loved he was by us and so many other people, but I know in that moment, in that circle I know he was with us sharing a beer.
Its been four years since I lost my dad, and not a day goes by I don’t miss him. But Dylan and I have prospered, we have continued to grow into men, we found strength and we continue to look out for our friends and each other cause that’s how our dad raised us.
When you lose someone, it does not have to define how you live the rest of your life. I have learnt more about myself and have become a much better person as a result of losing my father. The best way you and I can honour the loved ones we lose is to grow from our experience and help others to grow as well.
I wrote this with the intention of showing you how the darkest of days can be brightened by the love of those who care for us.
Love you Dad.
This is one of his favourite songs. It should give an idea of some of the moves he would try pull on the dance floor.
Suicide does not end the chances of life getting worse, it eliminates the possibility of it ever getting any better.
If you or someone you know is suffering then please seek help.
For professional assistance please call
Australia: Lifeline – 13 11 14
New Zealand: Lifeline – 0800 543 354
USA/Canada: Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1800 273 8255
UK: HopeLineUK – 0800 068 41 41
In emergency situations please call your local emergency services.