It’s amazing how things change in just one week. Last week, our family felt isolated. This week, we have had numerous phone calls, cards, and visitors.

It started out with one of Barry’s school friends, Leesa, contacting me and asking if I’d like some photos and a poem. Naturally, I said yes. I will share both in the next few days. Thank you, Leesa.

Then, my aunt who lives interstate contacted me by phone and allowed me to “beat my gums” and get things off my chest. Needless to say, that phone call lasted some time. And another aunt from overseas sent me an email saying that she was still thinking about me. Thank you to both of you.

This was followed by the arrival of a greeting card from a dear friend, Carol, with kind words and a poem included, which you can read here. Thank you, Carol.

And last night, Barry’s first girlfriend and her mother came to visit. They gave me photos and promised me a copy of a video they have of the Year 10 and 12 formals in coming weeks. They shared stories about Barry that I didn’t know about. I learned about his antics when he visited their home and stayed over; about the occasional time they wagged school; or got drunk; or drove without a licence. I learned that he was a larrikin and trouble maker (in a nice way). And I was also told that Barry was a credit to me because he was so well mannered and polite, and they loved having him around.

As we talked, I often felt a lump forming in my throat. It quietened me a fair bit, as I couldn’t talk for fear of crying. When they left, I let my emotions go and sobbed. This wasn’t because I had learned things I didn’t want to know, or because they had upset me with their visit in any way. It was because the boy they spoke about is gone and I miss him so much. Because there is so much more he could have and should have done.

I wish I could document all the memories that family have of Barry. He spent a lot of time with them; he was even included in family outings. I know Barry thought a lot of them and they thought a lot of him. To that family I want to say, “Thank you for accepting Barry for who he was. Thank you for opening your hearts to him. And thank you for sharing your memories with me. They will always mean so much and I will find comfort in the items you’ve given me to cherish for a long time to come.”