Local teacher Sue Gunningham waits impatiently for news of her
long-time partner Barry, who has been caught in the savage bushfires
on a day that that would later be known as ‘Black Saturday’.
‘It was still hot. The soft drink cans would have to be cooled before Barry could open them. I wished I had brought some ice in a little Esky to keep them cool.
Still, I had not realised it would all take this long. At least I had brought the drinks. I fleetingly wondered if I should have brought some food for Barry as well.
Up ahead of me I saw the police officer get out of his car.
Little does Sue realise that the loss of her partner is just the beginning of her own battle to not only find the strength to go on, but to cope with ongoing police interviews, disputes over legal entitlements, sessions with case workers and psychologists, and participation in a Royal Commission inquiry. On top of this Sue has to fight a frequently overwhelming bureaucracy in order to identify and keep Barry’s remains, and preserve the memory of their love.
Raw and compelling, this story of the aftermath of a natural disaster will resonate with anyone who has suffered through devastating grief and emerged on the other side.
‘I would like to congratulate Sue on not only her story and her courage, but the quality of her writing … This book should be required reading for everyone setting out to “help” those faced with the trauma of disaster, grief or other events which test people to their core.’
Dr Rob Gordon, clinical psychologist, and emergency and trauma consultant for over 20 years