My words at Ellen’s funeral.

Mary and I have been together for over 10 years and I like to think of our relationship as a tree. Over the years our tree has grown quickly and slowly at different times, but it’s fair to say that we both felt growth since arriving in Mt Isa. There’s been new branches with new friendships and interests. Then a significant branch began to emerge. One that looked like it was destined to fill the tree’s canopy and add symmetry to its form. Ellen’s branch grew over 8 months, and friends and family together with Mary and I marvelled, hoped, dreamed, joked, anticipated – what would be. Ellen was a beautiful experience and baby whose branch flowered for only one day, but we’ll be forever grateful that she came.

Ellens death scarred our tree forever, but our tree is still strong. Life for me and many others would have changed in an unimaginable way if the tree had been cut down during Mary’s illness – that terrifying event will also leave a scar on our tree for me – somewhere on the trunk. The scars will remind to remember what’s important, the people that are most important in our lives.

Mary and I couldn’t have predicted the degree of support we’ve received. In my own inadequate way I’ve already tried to thank some people and the response from everyone has been along the lines – ‘we just did what we could to help’, ‘what anyone would do’. Unfortunately one of the things I discovered talking to doctors and nurses and observing things in the Townsville hospital is that what people have done for us is most definitely not what everyone on this earth simply just does. It fills Mary and I with so much joy to know that this much love and support comes naturally, seeming without a second thought, from our friends and family and from this community – we’re extremely lucky.

I also know that Mary’s recovery would not have been so swift without the messages, faxes, emails, cards, donations and flowers that we read and shared with Mary in the days after she woke up in the Townsville Intensive Care Unit.

I would especially like to thank:

  • Our respective families
  • The doctors, nurses and midwives from Townsville and Mt Isa including Dr Warren, Helen, Ilse, Marion, Dr Michael and many others
  • Father Mick
  • Linda and Bill Bourke
  • The Mt Isa Zonta club
  • The guys from the Concordia soccer club
  • Friends who’ve travelled from Brisbane and Sydney… and everyone who’s here with us today

It makes it hard for us to leave Mt Isa, as many of you know we plan to return to Brisbane. Hard to leave the Isa, but if the decision is ever required, returning will be easy.

You have all made the process of grieving for Ellen and then coping with Mary’s illness easier for us and reinforced what makes life so valuable and the potential joy and happiness that Ellen never knew.