Here we are again

Staff Writer

Here we are again, the anniversary of my husband Tony’s death.

This is the second one and I am in a completely different place from where I was 12 months ago. So much has happened and somehow I feel like I have come full circle. The trauma has gone and so has a lot of the pain. My life is moving on and in the last couple of weeks I have realised that again, for the first time in years, I am feeling normal.

So where am I at… it is the only question I can truly answer for myself, because as with everything to do with the suicide of Tony, I can only share my story and let my three children tell their own to whomever, whenever they want. And I will never betray that.

Firstly I will say there are no tears this time. I am resigned to the whole experience and am starting to look at it as someone with perspective. I can see the pain it caused but am now choosing not to feel it in the same way.

So many people have asked me if it is getting easier and I can honestly say yes, in the last month it has, but the second year was far harder than the first.

When I sat here and spoke about it 12 months ago I naively thought that once I got through all the firsts and the first anniversary, the new normal we were creating would kick in and we could somehow get on with life.

What a mistake. In the last year my boys have had their own Everest to climb as a direct result of their anger and grief and watching them struggle so desperately when there was nothing I could do was devastating.

But I have always said and believed that it takes a village to raise a child and I have established a strong village around my boys with people who have stepped up for them continuously.

From Joe, my 14-year-old Lewin’s godfather, who has cheered him on at every soccer game and is taking him to Melbourne to see their two AFL clubs battle it out in the semifinals, to Dash who constantly calls and cares and is my eldest Fin’s mentor. Jimmy who is teaching Fin the guitar, to Peter who is helping him to learn to drive. There’s Julian who is taking my youngest camping over the holidays and finally Dave who is just there any time I need.

Solid decent men and friends of Tony’s who are stepping up in the way he would want and we need. They are offering my boys guidance, support and that male energy as they go through their teenage years.

Then there is my posse of besties – Alex, Vanessa, Fi, Mel – just to name a few. You know who you are. Then there is my mum, Julie, and sister, Pippa, who continue to love, bully and support me through every nuance of single mother doom.

It has been so hard fought as I struggled to keep my head above water through plagues of rats, wayward child care issues, damaged cars, forgotten bills and a mountain or paperwork that I am only just starting to get my head around.

I will be totally honest and tell you there were times I didn’t think I’d make it.

A small cut on my foot from Lego turned into a massive infection that compromised my liver and kidney. How did it get so bad? I wasn’t coping. I was run down and starving myself. Until I realised, as all single parents do, that if I wanted my kids to grow up being healthy, together, human beings, then I needed to be that too – and I started to heal.

That healing has also been helped by a very special man who came into my life and took my hand. His name is Sean we were friends 25 years ago when he was my boss and we reconnected by accident. I am not going to go into this other than to say he lives in Sydney and totally respects my world and understands my boys. They don’t need a father and I don’t need to co-parent so for now it works and he is totally awesome.

I know this is a lot of personal information about me, but here’s the thing I have always said – we need to talk about the impact of depression and suicide in this country as our statistics are appalling.

I am living proof, as is my family, of just how devastating one chosen death can be.

There is no glory here and although I’m not going to take the place of those organisations that help victims, I want to give a voice to those dealing with it or left behind. Families are living their own private hell because lots of Australians just aren’t coping.

Anyway I am one of the lucky ones. I have a great job, amazing kids and lots of people who love me. But, it has come with huge sacrifices – especially to my view on life.

I have become harder in so many ways. I will not compromise on protecting my kids and we have become a formidable foursome, but it has cost a number of relationships – some that might be able to be repaired, some that might not.

I am also far more vulnerable in many other ways and unexpected things undo me – like holding my new goddaughter Sophie and feeling the fragility of life.

It is a very different way of thinking and that in itself is hard to get used to.

Twelve months ago I asked why Tony would do this to us now I can only ask why he has done it to himself. He is missing out on so much and as the trauma of the day he died fades, I know that things would have got better for him.

This will be the last time I will talk like this about our situation on air.

We are looking forward and today the boys will hear from me and close friends and family about the wonderful stories of their dad as we come together tonight to raise a glass to him – something that I hope we can do for many years to come.

– Robin Bailey

If you need help, contact Lifeline 13 11 14

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