Order of Posts

Please remember that this is a blog and that, like most blogs, the post at the top of the screen is the newest. If you are reading the My Story category, then you should start with the first post (the oldest entry) and move up the screen. The entries will not make sense in any other way.

To make life easier for everyone, I have linked the parts. Start My Story by reading Part 1: The Clean Out first. Then, simply click on the link at the end of each post. This will take you directly to the next part in the story.


The Police and the Letter

Part 12

On 15 June 2006, exactly four weeks after Barry died by suicide, Daniel and I were asked to attend the police station and give statements. We were also asked to bring support as the police believed that I would not be able to drive home afterwards. Why? Gary and I asked ourselves. Why wouldn’t I be able to drive home? We couldn’t think of a reason.

The “interview” took three hours. Naturally, we had to give our statements separately, so we were taken to different rooms and asked questions. As I said earlier, it’s been four weeks so I was able to talk about the events leading up to Barry’s death without getting too upset. I knew the details, yet still I found it difficult to remember everything. However, this was mainly because of the grief … and there’s something about being asked question by the police.

Then, out of the blue, the police officer informed us that she had something to show us. She went on to tell us that they had found a letter on the night that Barry had taken his own life, written by Barry, and that they had taken it as evidence. This information left me shocked, scared … and angry. I was shocked because we had torn the house and garage apart looking for a letter, looking for a reason and had finally accepted the fact that we wouldn’t find anything and we would never know. I was scared because I didn’t know what I’d discover in Barry’s words. And I was angry because it took the police four weeks to tell us that a letter existed. This was totally unfair of them. Didn’t they realise that we desperately needed the information contained in such a letter?

The policewoman asked if I would be able to identify Barry’s handwriting, which, of course, was a stupid question. Of course I’d know my own son’s handwriting.

Then she produced the letter. It was five pages long and addressed to his girlfriend. However, I must mention that the letter had been ripped up and thrown away, so Barry never intended for her to see this letter. Barry didn’t mention any family member, except our dog, BJ, who passed away a week before Barry. I felt a little relieved that the family wasn’t mentioned because it meant that Barry didn’t have any issues with any of us. I was upset by the lack of a written “I love you, Mum”. However, I got over that omission quickly because I know that Barry’s thoughts were not turned towards me, they were focused inward on his own problems.

The letter proves that Barry planned his fate and he meant to end his life when he did. There’s no doubt about that. At the end of the letter, he dated it, put the time and then wrote:

26/6/87 – 17/5/06

So, in actual fact, he planned to take his life on the Wednesday, instead of the Thursday. We don’t know what stopped him, but we do believe that he was living out the words to the song “Goodbye, My Lover”. The reason we believe this is because he used certain words in the letter that came straight from the song. He also ended the letter with the song title. We believe that he wanted his “soul out into the night”. Upon hearing this Daniel broke down. He suddenly realised that Barry had tried to get Daniel to go to bed early. Barry asked Daniel several time that night, “Aren’t you tired, why don’t you go to bed?” But Daniel said he was enjoying the time they were sharing together and didn’t want to go to bed, even though he was really tired.

Daniel went to bed at midnight. I believe that Barry’s plan had been spoiled (because it was now the 18th), so he went to bed and we know he took his life during the next day instead.

It was difficult to read Barry’s words. He said that he knew his actions were selfish, but he was doing this thing for himself. He said that he couldn’t bear life without his girlfriend (they were “taking a break”). He wanted the last hug and kiss to be from her. He said he had thought about it for a long while and planned it right down to when, where, how and even the time. He said that by the time his girlfriend read the letter, he would be well and truly gone, but he would be up above watching over her and keeping her safe. He said by doing what he planned to do, he would not feel “a thing” anymore.

Now we have Barry’s reason for doing what he did, but I still firmly believe there’s more to this story than what’s been written here. Only Barry knows the truth and he’s not here to tell us. Yet, our tortured minds will not allow us to push the details into a dark corner and forget them. We continue to hunt for more information, and I think we’ll continue to do that for a while yet.

The pain and suffering has ended for Barry, but for his family it’s only just begun. We still wait for him to come home, and we still listen for his footsteps and favourite greeting. I stare at every 18 year old boy in the street, dressed in clothing similar to what Barry used to wear, hoping by some miracle to see my son’s face. I hear his songs on the radio, I see his favourite movie stars (Arnold Schwarzenegger and Johny Depp) on TV and in magazines. And I find that everywhere I look is something to remind me of his hanging (even on The Simpsons). Reminders are everywhere.

Not a day goes by when I haven’t thought about Barry constantly. Even during work hours, his face is foremost in my mind. But at least I can see his face again. That’s a good sign and a huge comfort.

Believe me when I say that the grieving doesn’t end after the funeral. And it doesn’t mean that the loved one has been put to rest, so it’s time for the family to move on. There was, and is, no finality for me. I haven’t said goodbye. I plan on seeing that happy, smiling face of my youngest son, Barry, again. In the meantime, I’m left with a million and one things to do. For example, apply for a copy of the autopsy report, cancel his driving license and Medicare, fix up his superannuation funds, close his bank account, sort through his remaining belongings and the list goes on. For others it might stop after the funeral, but for the family there is always something that needs to be dealt with.

These things only push those family members back into the deepest, darkest pit where the sudden death of a loved one put them. Is it any wonder that we have no energy, no social skills, no will and no tolerance? We are exhausted. We are too busy trying to climb out of the pit and find our way back into the light.

Hopefully, next month will be better for all of us.

Whilst the pain continues for my family, here ends My Story, or should I say Barry’s Story. We require time to heal. We will look for comfort from each other and eventually our lives will begin to move forward. As they say, “life goes on”, and it will because I will not let this wreck what’s left of my family.

Updated 7 September 2006: Read Another Piece of the Puzzle for an update on the letter. This is now a private entry and cannot be viewed by the public.

Bringing Barry Home

Part 11 – I originally wrote this post on 9 June 2006, however, I realise now that it should be part of My Story so I have reposted it and deleted the original post.

On 8 June 2006, I wrote a post about preparing to collect Barry’s ashes. Today, I’ve been putting off writing my account of the day. Why? It was most definitely one of the worst days of my life. However, my partner, Gary, tells me that it was, in fact, the worst day of his life.

In the car we both felt sick in the stomach. This was coupled with a terrible headache for me and backache for Gary – stress. As we drove closer and closer to the memorial park, the pains in my stomach tripled. I felt physically sick. A feeling of dread came over me when Gary parked the car and we began walking towards the building.

Inside the small office, Gary was calm, while I was shaking with the emotions running through my body. The paperwork only took a few minutes, and then the woman said, “I’ll go and get him”. Tears sprang to my eyes as I prayed that she would do just that – walk through the door with a living Barry in tow. It didn’t happen. Instead, she re-entered the room with a bag. Inside the bad was a plastic container.

Upon seeing it, my resolve left me. I found it difficult to see the remaining form, let alone read aloud the number that identified the container as my son. It was a cold act that no parent should have to face. Once it was confirmed that we had the correct container, the woman placed the bag within Gary’s arms. None of us spoke a single word. We left the office.

As soon as Gary and I stepped out of the building the flood gates opened. We both broke down. It would be a long time before either of us would be able to talk, let alone drive home. We managed to get to the car, I sat in the passenger’s seat and Gary placed my son on my lap. The plaque from his coffin – Barry Andrew Henderson, Aged 18 years – shone up at me, blurred by the tears that wouldn’t stop flowing.

We sat in the car for the longest time, sobbing. Gary, the man who had bravely carried me through the last three weeks, finally broke. Everything came crashing down, and he lost all control. It broke my heart to see him like that, just as much as it broke my heart to be holding my baby in a tiny, grey box.

I don’t know how long we sat there. I do know that we never spoke a word. We drove home and came into a cold, empty house and I felt that’s how my heart had grown. Home again. My son was home again, but not in the way I wanted and needed.

For a while, I stood in the kitchen hugging the container close to my heart. Sobbing continually. Gary grabbed my shoulders and guided me to Barry’s bedroom. We placed him on his bed, surrounded by the things that he hadn’t thrown away.

No words can truly describe the anguish we both felt. The pain was as raw and open as it could be. We cried on and off for eight hours, before the tears finally subsided and gave way to exhaustion. The emptiness that I’ve felt for three weeks finally claimed its hold on Gary. He said that it felt like he was carrying a baby and that nothing on Earth could have separated him and Barry during that short trip to the car. He said that he realised how much he had come to love Barry in the years that they knew each other. He realised that the pain I have been feeling is much more intense than he could ever imagine.

Click here to go to Part 12: The Police and the Letter

The Funeral

Part 10

The funeral service for Barry was held at 11am on 30 May 2006 at Pine Grove.


When arranging the funeral, I was asked how many “Order of Service” leaflets we would need. I said fifty would probably be too many as we are a very small family – 14 in total, on both side of the family. The funeral director frowned and said she would do 100. Later, she phoned me and said that she still didn’t think that would be enough and she would do 150. I honestly felt that she was wasting paper, because we are not a social family with heaps of friends, but I didn’t argue. I didn’t have the strength.

On the morning of the funeral, Gary and I got ready quietly. Each of us was focused inwardly. We had been told to arrive at least 20 minutes early as we had arranged a private coffin bearing for family members only. However, when we arrived at the chapel it was already crowded. I never knew that Barry had so many friends. It lightened my heart.

It was soon realised that the coffin bearing would not be a private affair, so plans were quickly changed and everyone was ushered into the chapel. We waited. Meanwhile the first of Barry’s favourite songs was playing – “I Would Do Anything for Love” by Meat Loaf.

It seemed like an eternity, but finally the minister asked us to rise.

There were six coffin bearers: Andy (Barry’s Dad), Gary, Daniel, Jamie (Barry’s cousin), Peejay and Matt (two of Barry’s best friends). I saw none of them.

For me, the chapel was empty apart for me and the coffin. The coffin hovered in mid-air and slowly moved down the aisle towards me. I remember thinking that I was going to pass out; I staggered, but regained my footing. I know that in those moments I was distraught. The tears flowed freely, I was gasping for breath. My son lay in that coffin. I couldn’t accept that fact.

Words. There were lots of words spoken after that. I remember Gary standing tall and speaking clearly on my behalf. The words I had written, that would never feel adequate enough, were spoken with strength and conviction. Gary only faltered once when he tried to speak the personal words that I had written to Barry, but he quickly pushed the lump in his throat aside and continued in his strong voice. He held on until the end. It was only when he reached the pew, and sat beside me, that he allowed his grief to overcome him and he sobbed. Olga, the funeral director, then read the words Daniel had written for Barry – lovely, sentimental words that touched my heart and still make me cry when I think about them.

Then…we were asked to reflect on happy memories of Barry while his favourite song played – “Kingston Town” by UB40.

This is a poem that was read out next. The minister asked Barry’s loved ones to imagine Barry actually saying the words:

Do not sit here and weep.
I am not here, I do not sleep.
I am the thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glint on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain,
I am the shining star at night,
When you awake to the morning light.
My time has come, I am at rest.
I am the sunset in the west,
I am the clouds that race above,
Where I watch over those I love.
Do not sit here and cry,
I am not here, I do not die,
So hear these words that now I say,
I am the love that guides your way.

Following the poem was The Lord’s Prayer and then the committal. By this stage, I wasn’t really with it because I knew the end was near and that my last goodbye was approaching.

To the words of a special song between Barry and his older brother, Daniel – The Wanderer by Dion – Gary and I left our seat and approached the coffin for the final time. I whispered “I love you” and placed a yellow flower on the coffin then turned and walked away. I refused to say “goodbye”, and have not said those words once as goodbye is final and I plan to see Barry again. I knew that the rest of the family had approached the coffin too, and I heard the minister invite the rest of the congregation to follow suit.

It was at this point, as Gary and I walked up the aisle, that I realised just how many people were present. Even the 150 “Order of Service” leaflets were not enough. The crowd parted to let us through the doors and I saw row upon row of grieving friends. Outside, at least two or three dozen more people gathered. It still brings tears to my eyes to know that Barry was so well loved, yet he left this world feeling so alone.

Outside, fresh tears fell. A sea of faces appeared before me, all offering a hug. People from decades past, people I’d never met before, Barry’s old girlfriends and school friends, and people who were just names to me until this sad day. No words were necessary. It was obvious that they shared my pain.

I deliberately arranged it so that we didn’t see the curtain close around Barry’s coffin. I’ve only witnessed that once and it was heart breaking. I couldn’t bear to witness it with my son, and I didn’t feel that anyone else wanted to see that either.

Barry’s family and friends came together to say goodbye. We cried together. We hugged each other. We reminisced. As painful as it was, it didn’t leave me with a sense of finality or closure. I still was unable to accept what had happened and that my son was gone forever. However, it did leave me with the feeling that Barry was loved in this world. As his mother, that was important for me to know.

Click here to go to Part 11: Bringing Barry Home

The Viewing

Part 9

Before this happened, I was always of the opinion that I would never attend a viewing of any deceased person – especially a loved one. I always believed that it would be better to remember the person in happy times, instead of replacing that image with that of a … dead person. However, until something like this happens to you, there’s no way you can know how you will truly react or feel.

Maybe it was the circumstances that changed my mind. My son died by suicide and I was in a state of shock and denial (still am to a degree). My older son, Daniel, identified the body, but, for me, there was still this glimmer of hope that a mistake had been made. Perhaps Daniel was wrong, perhaps it wasn’t Barry at all. Perhaps Barry was staying with an unknown friend and didn’t know the pain we were going through. These thoughts would not leave my mind. I had to see Barry for myself and make sure.

On 29 May 2006, my family and Barry’s Dad’s family attended the viewing. I can’t speak for anyone else, and to be honest, I wasn’t interested in anyone else. The viewing was a nasty thing, but I also feel that it was essential.

I was nervous. My stomach churned over and over as we waited to go in. Being Barry’s mother, I was the first to step through the door. From my vantage point, I could see his spiked hair. Already my heart was sinking. I took a few steps closer and all hope was gone.

“Oh, Barry!” I cried.

Gary held me up. We cried torrents of tears as I looked at the face of my boy. We had been warned that he was cold. But we had been encouraged to touch him, to hold his hand. The first time I kissed Barry’s forehead wasn’t pleasant, but it did become easier with time.

My family had seen him, had cried, had tried to comfort each other. We left and allowed Barry’s father, and that side of the family, to have their turn. Sitting outside, in the sun, wasn’t easy for me. I wanted to return to my son. I needed to say the things that I was holding deep inside myself. Yet I waited.

Finally, Daniel (who had gone in with me, and stayed in the room with his father too) called me in. Gary and my mum came with me. This is another thing that I never believed I would do, but again, we were encouraged to do this. We took photos of Barry in the coffin. These photos will be placed in a small album and hidden away. No one will ever see them. I may never look at them again, but if I need to, they are there because as I’ve been told numerous times “afterwards it’s too late to change your mind”.

After several minutes, I asked if I could be left alone with Barry. However, my ex-husband came in after about 20 seconds, so I still hadn’t had time to say the words I needed to say.

We stood in silence – Barry’s mother and father – gazing down at our son. Neither of us able to accept what had happened. In a strange way, I believe Barry would have wanted that time together – just the three of us.

Then, his dad left me alone with him. Not knowing how long I had before some well meaning person came back into the room, I blurted out the words that were troubling me.

“I’m sorry, Barry. I’m sorry for failing you. I’m sorry for not knowing what you were going through. I’m sorry that I didn’t make things right. I’m not angry with you, but I forgive you anyway. I have always loved you, and always will. And I’ll never, ever forget you.”

I barely got the words out and the door opened and the funeral director came in. She was a wonderful woman, who took our family into her heart. She cared for us and she took care of Barry for us. I know that without a doubt. We stood with Barry in silence for a moment and then I said, “I don’t want to leave him. I don’t want him to think that I’m deserting him.”

She hugged me and left, unable to say anything other than, “As a mother, I know what you mean.”

I knew it was time to leave, but I didn’t want to. I walked to the door, paused and turned to take one last look at the face I knew and loved so much. Tears sprang to my eyes and I ran back to the coffin. “I’m not leaving you, Barry. I could never do that. I’m taking you with me, in my heart.”

I kissed him and left.

Click here to go to Part 10: The Funeral

Making Plans and Saying Goodbye

Part 8

In hindsight, the signs were plain. We look back now and can see when and where Barry was saying goodbye. These memories break my heart because I wish I’d picked up on them then…rather than now, when it’s too late.

Barry had sent Daniel a text message, “I know I don’t say this often, but I love you.”

On the last phone call me and Barry had together, he said, “I love you.”

He sent text messages to a few of his mates with vague, cryptic goodbyes.

Apparently, he waited for Tara (his girlfriend) to come out from work on the Monday afternoon. He gave her all the things that she had given to him over the months they had been together and then asked for a hug. She asked why and he said that he’d tell her after she gave him a hug. They hugged and then he said “goodbye” and walked away. She thought they were breaking up for good and threw everything away when she got home. The garbage was collected that night, so she couldn’t get any of it back.

He requested a special “brothers” night for him and Daniel. They had a night together that Daniel will never forget. I’m so happy about that.

We know that Barry planned his suicide because:

1. He placed his bag, and wallet, on the kitchen table to alert Daniel that he was home. He always went straight to his room and put the bag on his bed. Why would he change habits now?

2. He placed his mobile phone under the garage window, so that when Daniel tried to phone him, Daniel would hear the phone ringing. Unfortunately, he didn’t.

3. He had cleaned out his things.

4. He had left a light on, but maybe he did that because the garage is dark (even during the day) and he couldn’t see what he was doing without it.

5. He took his thongs off, and put joggers on. We know this because the thongs were left with his bag. This was for better grip to make sure the object he stood on would fall over when he wanted it too. Again, there was no reason to leave the bag and thongs in the kitchen, when he had to go into his bedroom to change his shoes. He wanted Daniel to know that he was home, but Daniel didn’t realise what was happening.

We believe that Barry got up that morning, washed up, then went out to post a letter and CD to Tara. Tara never received these things, so he either 1) changed his mind and threw them away, 2) posted them and they went astray, or, 3) Tara’s parents received them and threw them away, without reading the letter and without telling Tara.

When he got home, we believe he placed the bag on the table and went straight to the garage and ended his life.

At first, I believed that this was his plan. However, little details that seemed out of place started to cloud my judgement. Instead, I started to wonder if it had been a test run gone wrong. Believe it or not, I find this possibility horrifying because I imagine Barry struggling to save his life. The thought of him in pain, struggling tortures me. I can’t stand the images that come to mind. I want the end to be quick and painless for him. I need it to be that way.

I guess I’ll never know for sure, unless these details are in the Coroner’s report.

Edited on 24 August 2006: It’s now known that the letter was posted prior to the Thursday, because it reached its destination on or before that date. As we are certain that Barry burned the CD on the Monday evening, it means that the letter and CD were posted on the Tuesday or Wednesday. So where did Barry go on Thursday morning? The only other possibility was to buy the rope he needed to hang himself. This thought breaks my heart.

Click here to go to Part 9: The Viewing

The Consuming Fear

Part 7

The next four days are still a bit of a haze to me. People continued to come and go. The sweet aroma of flowers filled every room. Cards were placed on every available surface.

My mind churned over and over. Why? What if? The events of the past weeks, the conversations I had with Barry, the finding of clues that went unnoticed until afterwards. If only…we hadn’t gone on holiday that week; I had been more alert; I had seen the signs beforehand. It was essential that we fit the pieces of the puzzle together, but that’s hard to do when there are pieces missing. We speculated, we grasped at straws, our vivid imaginations made things up. All this left us feeling exhausted and drained.

On top of all these things, I also had an all consuming fear darkening my thoughts. I even had nightmares regarding this fear. Would Daniel follow his brother into death? The garage roller door was left unlocked, because we couldn’t find the key. The fear was so strong that I even left my bed in the early hours of the morning to check the garage. I have no idea what I would have done if I’d found Daniel in there. It doesn’t bare thinking about, but I couldn’t rest easy because of the constant fear nagging at me.

I talked to Daniel about how he was feeling, but I didn’t want to put pressure on him. He had too much on his mind already, without me making matters worse. He had found his brother, so he had an image in his mind that wouldn’t leave him. He also realised that the police suspected him, even if it was only briefly, of murder. I felt the need to get him, and me, to a counsellor. He wasn’t keen, at first, but soon consented to me making the appointments.

On the fourth day, Gary found the garage key. With the garage locked up, and the key hidden, I felt a surge of relief. However, now I believe that I didn’t give my oldest son the credit he deserves. He’s much stronger than I realised. Much stronger. I’m aware that he’s concerned about me…and his father. I know that he is trying to do the right thing by everyone. He had to mature quickly, and whilst I know the depth of his sorrow, I’m so proud of the way he’s handling the situation. I’m proud of him (and yes, I have told him that).

Click here to go to Part 8: Making Plans and Saying Goodbye

Those First Hours

Part 6

We arrived home at 5.30am. Even now we both find it amazing that we actually made it without being in an accident. It was raining quite hard, and it was foggy. We were tired, distraught and careless, but we did make it.

We arrived home at dawn. The street was quiet. The house was deserted. Daniel had phoned me during the drive home and asked if it would be alright if he stayed with his uncle. I told him that I didn’t expect him to stay at the house on his own, and to come over whenever he was ready in the morning.

We know that there were six police cars parked out front during the night, plus a forensics van. We also knew that the police had gone through everything inside the house and garage. We were expecting to feel violated when we got home, but upon entering the house nothing had been left out of place. If Daniel hadn’t told us, we would never have known.

The house was cold and empty, much like our bodies. It felt like we had walked into a giant void. There was nothing homely about the place. It felt like a sterile building only.

We stepped over the threshold, and the emotions bubbled up inside me. I went straight to Barry’s room and fell apart all over again. No words can ever describe the anguish I felt.

We roamed around the house, looking for a suicide note. Anything to suggest why this terrible thing had happened, but there was nothing. That’s what the police were looking for too. We did, however, find a warrant on the kitchen bench. The police were investigating a “murder”. That cut me to the core and I wondered if Daniel realised that he was a suspect.

At this time the feelings running through my body were swift and vague. They mounted and erupted, then turned to something else within minutes of each other. Words were not spoken. What could be said at such a time?

I made my first phone call – to my mum. It was before 6am, but I needed the support and comfort of my parents. I remember the scream my mother let out, but I can’t remember the words we shared.

The entire day flew by in a vague blur of tears and disbelief. People arrived at the house to hug me and tell me how sorry they were. Flowers were thrust into my arms. Yet I remember little of those hours.

Daniel arrived and it was as if a weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I realised then, that my greatest fear was that Daniel might follow his brother into death. These thoughts tortured my mind and while my surviving son was standing in front of me, I knew that he was safe. I had to keep him safe at all costs. Together, we searched, desperate to find a reason why Barry took his own life. It became the only thing that gave us energy to carry on.

Click here to go to Part 7: The Consuming Fear

The Worst Moment of My Life

Part 5

Thursday, 18th May 2006.

I felt irritable all day. Gary asked me numerous times what was wrong, but I didn’t know. I can’t remember what we did, but we spent the day walking in the sunshine – I do know that. That evening, my stomach kept churning over. I felt uneasy.

At 11.30pm there was a phone call on my mobile. I was half asleep and couldn’t find the phone, so missed the call. Two minutes later, the phone rang again. I instinctively knew that something was wrong.

Daniel’s voice was calm, he spoke slowly. He told me that he had arrived home from work at 4.45pm, but Barry wasn’t at home. However, his backpack and wallet were on the table. This was uncharacteristic of Barry. Daniel told me that the back door was unlocked and left open. Again, this was not usual behaviour.

Daniel went on to tell me that he had tried to phone Barry’s mobile at least a dozen times, but there was no answer. At first, he thought he was over at the shops with his mates, but another phone call to one of them proved that incorrect. Daniel was worried, but he figured that Barry must have met up with another friend and would be home late. Perhaps his phone was on silent and he wasn’t hearing the phone calls.

Daniel said that he had to go to bed because he was going to work the next day (Friday) and he felt tired. However, he felt uncomfortable going to bed without knowing where Barry was. Sitting out the front, on the veranda, the people from across the road invited him over. Daniel thought this was a good idea. He locked up the house, but had to leave through the back door because he didn’t have a key to the front door. It was then that he saw it.

The garage light was on.

Daniel calmly told me that he walked towards the little window and stood there looking at Barry. He said that he couldn’t understand what Barry was doing, why he was just standing there. He called out, “Barry, what are you doing?”

Daniel ran to the garage door and threw it up. It was at this stage that he realised that Barry wasn’t standing, he was hanging.

I didn’t hear anything after this. I remember screaming “No” into the phone and collapsing to the ground. Gary took the phone from me and talked to Daniel for a little longer. He also spoke to a police officer.

Meanwhile, I was distraught, shaking and my mind was running at a thousand miles an hour, but a glimmer of hope awakened inside me and I grabbed the phone and asked, “He’s going to be alright though, isn’t he?”

“Mum, he has been hanging there for hours. He’s gone,” replied Daniel.

“Gone to the hospital?” My mind wouldn’t accept the truth.

“No, he’s dead.”

This was the worst moment of my life. I never expected to hear these words uttered about one of my sons. How could it be true? He was 18 years old. He had the world ahead of him. Now, he was gone forever.

By 12.15am, we had packed everything into the car and left the resort. By 12.30am, we had left the coastal town and were on the highway heading home. It was the longest five hour drive I’ve ever had to endure.

Click here to go to Part 6: Those First Hours

The Holiday and the Last Conversation

Part 4

Gary and I went on holiday. The first one is a while. We needed the break, the change of scenery and the time alone together. It was wonderful – even though I can’t remember a lot of it now.

I remember being worried about our kittens – Sophie and Jasper – on that first night. They don’t like strangers and I was concerned that they may have disliked “strangers” being in the house because my older son, Daniel, and his girlfriend, Angie, were staying at the house with Barry for the four nights. I rang the house and spoke to Barry about it. He was laughing and told me that they were fine. He also told me that he was now the boss and he’d changed the rules and allowed Peppi (our third cat) inside. I laughed and told him that it was up to him, but I hope he was prepared to clean up the vomit (Peppi was notorious for that, and that’s why he wasn’t allowed inside). He was certain that he wouldn’t have to do such a “stinking” thing, but if it did happen, he’d talk Angie into cleaning it up for him.

Our holiday continued.

On Wednesday night, I had the urge to phone Barry again. He sounded relaxed. He told me that Peppi was behaving himself and that Angie had gone home, leaving Daniel and Barry to their own devices for the evening. He said they were going to play games (the Playstation) and have fun.

Then, he started to grill me. “When are you coming home?” “Are you sure you’re coming home on Friday?” “What time on Friday?” “So you’re not coming home on Thursday?”

I assured him that we’d arrive home after lunch on Friday. My only thought at these questions was that he was planning a party. Then, out of the blue, he said, “I love you.” It wasn’t the same as a normal “love ya” at the end of a phone call, it was said with depth and meaning. It was something that I’d never heard from Barry before. I didn’t say anything to him about it because I didn’t want to scare him from saying it like that again, so I said “I love you too, Barry.” There was a pause. I said, “I’ll see you on Friday.” His reply was simply, “Bye.” These were to be the last words I heard Barry say.

Daniel and Angie have since told us that Barry was happy during the entire time they were here. Apparently, Barry made a CD on the Monday night. On the Tuesday night, Daniel walked into Barry’s room to find him writing a letter, but Barry wouldn’t let Daniel see it. On the Wednesday night, the two brothers sat outside feeding a possum and talking about old times. They played games and laughed until quite late. Daniel said the house felt peaceful when he went to bed.

Click here to go to Part 5: The Worst Moment of My Life