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This week I have been pondering the fragility of human existence.  This introspection was brought about by the senseless murder of a young international student in another state.  From all reports she was a beautiful and spiritual young person who came to this country with expectations of having a wonderful experience, broadening her cultural understandings, making friends and furthering her education.

She and her family saw this adventure as an opportunity for experiencing the best of what we have to offer.  But, as she made her way to work just before dawn all her possibilities were cruelly snatched from her, leaving her family and friends devastated and a major city reeling with shock that such a cruel and heartless murder could have put out the candle of her life. A life too short, with goals that will now never be attained.

My heart aches for her parents. As parent I know too well the sense of trepidation you feel when your children are far from you. No matter their age, when they travel abroad, you worry about their safety and breathe a sigh of relief when they return. When my youngest daughter moved interstate for two years I was constantly concerned about her safety and each time I heard her voice I was reassured that she was unharmed.

I can only imagine how her parents feel.  There will be no more chances for them to hold her to them, to hear her stories about what she has been doing, to listen to her talk about the day-to-day mundane acts that she had completed; those conversations that, at the time may have seemed trivial,  will now be re-played in their mind as memories of a happier time before their hearts were broken.

Had she died in an accident, or of natural causes, that would have been terrible enough. But to know that she was brutally killed because she was in the wrong place at the wrong time, the victim of a thrill-kill, must be an agony of insurmountable proportions. They trusted her to this country and we were not able to protect her for them.

I look at my youngest daughter, just slightly younger than this poor girl, and think how much I treasure every moment with her. I celebrate everything she does and everything she is.  I cannot imagine a life without her

I look at my youngest son and recall a time when he was brutally assaulted and the heart-stopping first glimpse of how badly injured he was. I treasure every joke he makes and his every achievement. I am grateful for the times we spend together, the grandson he has given me and the other grandson who will be born in March.  I cannot imagine a life without him and his family.

I look at my eldest son and recall his heartaches and his achievements.  I cherish his forthrightness and his strength and am grateful for the times we share, the conversations we have and his wry sense of humour. I cannot imagine a life without him and his wife.

I look at my eldest daughter, my firstborn child, and cherish everything she shares with me. I think of the past pain and heartache she has experienced and how she rose above these. I take pride in all her achievements, the best of which are her beautiful daughter and son. I cannot imagine a life without her and her family.

The thought of losing any of them is too painful to imagine and I am grateful that they are safe. I can’t begin to imagine how the young girl’s parents feel as they wonder if there was anything they could have done differently to prevent this tragedy.

In the past I have written about the demise of famous people and commented on the impact of this.  But words come hesitantly on this case.  I am finding it difficult to comprehend the cruelty of human beings, to understand how a person could do this to another person. I am finding it hard to believe that a species could be so brutal to its own species, to wantonly kill for pleasure. Other species kill for food. Man is the only species that does it for thrills. I know this is so but I am finding this difficult to cope with.

Each time there is a murder I feel this lack of understanding, this feeling that this is too much to comprehend, too much to forgive, too much to forget.

Each time there is a murder I feel I should avoid the media coverage because this will just compound my lack of understanding of the cruelty of mankind.

Each time there is a murder I feel that I should check on my children and make sure that they are safe.

Each time there is a murder I feel the pain of the parents of the victim.

Each time there is a murder I wish I could send my condolences to the family and friends and I wish I thought that would make any difference… but I know it won’t.

Each time there is a murder I feel selfishly grateful that it is not one of my family.

Each time there is a murder I ponder the fragility of life, that will-of-the-wisp of time on earth than can be eliminated all too quickly and all too tragically.

And I hope that one day this senseless killing will stop and all parents can rest easily in the knowledge that their children are safe. But I am afraid this will never happen.