Sunshine and Storms

That’s life really, isn’t it… the good with the bad. I have to admit I’ve come a long way from my last post. I’ve achieved a lot, both physically and emotionally, in a practical sense and in finding some peace going forward.

The Family Group Conference was not really at all how I expected and left me with hugely different emotions than I anticipated. In a good way, I am pleased to report! I thought I was going to be confronted with a nihilistic teenager who had no remorse. But that didn’t turn out to be the case. Pip and Lucy came north to support me, for which I was intensely grateful. The three of us, Fizz, Richard and Sarah, Emma James, Brian & Olivia and Mum and Dad had all prepared Victim impact statements. We also arranged to play some of the funeral video – everyone arriving, plus Queenie’s and Matt’s talks, followed by the Humble and Kind song with the slide show of Danny’s photos.

Hope was there, of course, with her family for support, her lawyer and social worker. Also present were the two Police Officers involved and the Youth Justice Co-ordinator. She (and they) listened to our presentations with respect and emotion. She met my eye and cried, as did everyone there. It was incredibly emotional for us all, very confronting for her, and I found a sense of justice that I hadn’t expected to feel.

She read a prepared apology statement and I did feel her remorse was genuine. All her whanau were upset and ashamed, very apologetic to me and sorrowful. It did indeed help me to realise they had real understanding of our extreme loss. They thanked us for making Danny real as a person, sharing who he was with them and said he was no longer a name on a piece of paper but someone who’s loss they also felt now.

We went out for dinner that night at the Fisherman’s Wharf restaurant in Ohope. Brett and Nicola joined us, but Finn was in Gisbourne unfortunately. It was a lovely end to a very emotional day and I felt a weight had been lifted off me. I could only trust that the legal teams will come up with a plan that changes Hope’s future into one of positive productivity.

We cannot do anything to bring my darling Danny back. All I can control is my reaction to it going into the rest of my life. I recognise I’ll feel anger at times but I’m not going to let it rule. All I can hope for is that Hope never does this to another family and becomes a better person.

Last Friday, the 3rd of July, was Hope’s youth court appearance, held on the Wairaka Marae. I was led onto the marae as an honoured guest, ahead of everyone else, and given the traditional pouwhiri. It was rather awe inspiring. There were initial speeches in Maori, followed by morning tea. I couldn’t eat anything as I was nil by mouth for my knee arthroscopy that afternoon! Then we were called into the formal meeting hall. This is a lovely room steeped in history, with photos of the ancestors framed with traditionally carved woodwork.

The Judge sat in front, with two Kaumatua next to him. Brett and I sat facing them with Hope & her family next to me. The legal team and social workers were on the left, the police and other Kaumatua on the right. Everyone gave their mihi (introduction) in Maori then English. Then the judge announced the order of hearings. We were first, so everyone else left. Hope’s lawyer said his bit, then the police, then the Kaumatua took turns. They didn’t pull any punches. She was made to feel the wrath, disappointment and shame of her whole Iwi.

I was asked if I wanted to say anything, which I hadn’t expected and was unprepared, but did anyway. I reiterated the huge void Danny’s passing has left in our hearts and lives, and said all we could pray for was that Hope changed the course of her life and became a better person. The judge commented on that in his summary, entreating her to see that for the gift it was and to not let me down. She afterwards thanked me for my kindness in supporting her efforts to change, instead of berating or abusing her.

As well as dealing with that event, I’ve had a bunch of other stuff going on. Matt and I have finally TODAY (06.07.20) got Carly off the books and the house into our own title. Thank effing God. Cost so much more than it should have and I’m still stunned that someone I gave an amazing opportunity to could be such a greedy grasping piece of work. But, it’s over now. I’ve bought a bottle of bubbles, the real deal, to take to Fizz’s tomorrow and celebrate! The biggest bouquet to our bank manager, Tim, who is one epic dude and totally helped us every step of the way. He’s defs in the friend zone, not just the banker! Matt and Meg have just headed off to Paris and I’m catching up with the whanau in Chch.

I’ve also had my sailing friend, Bea, to visit, which was awesome and had a weekend with Raewyn in Tauranga. I love spending time with her family and animals!

And on Friday afternoon, after the meeting of the youth court in the marae, I had my knee arthroscopy in the surgeon’s private theatre in Whakatane. He fitted me into a last minute cancellation, for which I’m very grateful. It’s doing well.

Other than that I’ve wrapped up all the legal things pertaining to Danny’s estate, found lovely new tenants for the house, arranged for Finn’s guys to build a new fence along the west boundary of the property, got the loo door and bathroom cupboards fixed, changed the locks upstairs and rekeyed the downstairs door, sorted the garage to the point where Chase can get his boat in one side and I can get my car in the other, had a wardrobe built into the room Danny built and begun glueing the floor tiles down. That will now have to be finished by an expert, since my knee is recovering! I’ve also had the window in Matt’s room fixed, the Internet cable extended for downstairs, and Brett helped me take out two dead trees. The Roofer is coming next week to try and find the leak in Allan’s room, for the second time. I think I’ve done pretty well, really!

It’s now July 9th and I’m at Fizz’s. Dad, Mum and I came down on Tuesday. Pip, Sam and Lucy came on Monday. Kelly is home and Suzie, also, on holiday from Massey. It’s been a wonderful couple of days. So long since we’ve all had time together, other than Danny’s funeral.

I caught up briefly with Jake and Daniel, the young friends I made while in lockdown here. It was particularly wonderful to see Dan. He is a truly amazing guy (with an epic name, of course!), a hard and honest worker with an unusual amount of self awareness, and a caring Dad to his young daughter. Last night he picked me up after work and while he had a shower, I got the fire going and cooked him an omelette. He then showed me the guitar he’s bought for Briar, and tuned it ready for her. Very cute. I hope he goes well and happy for the foreseeable future. Another rare and treasured friend. These connections in my life are a joy and keep me going in darker days when my loss threatens to overwhelm me.

Fizz, Lucy and I sat up after everyone else had gone to bed. I’m blessed in my siblings. My life has been reduced in such an enormous way. What seemed important to me before, is no longer. Things that drove me, do so no longer. I haven’t the energy for extreme endeavour now, only an honest existence.

Tomorrow we head back to Christchurch. Its going to be hard leaving Mum and Dad. There seems a fragility to them I hadn’t seen before Covid-19 came along, an unseen, unpredictable foe, frightening for the older folk. They are amazing, so brave and strong really, considering they have four score years each. I’m blessed in my parents also.

Saturday 11th sees me return to Ohope. This new land I’ve named my home calls to me in unexpected ways. The ocean, the Bush, the wildlife. It is pure spirit food. I may be gone a while, but I feel next time I come home, I might stay. Time will tell. I rejoin Bernie on Momo on July 23rd after flights via LA and Loreto. I’m looking forward to being on board again. I do have a permanent job in France starting late September. Who knows how that will pan out. I mostly just want to see Matt. I miss him deeply.

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