Monday, 15 August 2011

Monsters Among Us.

"We're all weeping now, weeping because
There ain't nothing we can do to protect you."

- O'Children, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

I think of Leiby a lot. A little over a month ago, he begged his mum if he could walk home from day camp. She said yes, and even went through a dry-run, practicing where he was to turn off to get back home in Brooklyn, NY. He was almost nine years old, and he got lost. There's CCTV footage of him, walking down the street with his backpack on. He asked the wrong person for directions.

For two days he was missing. When the police knocked on a suspects door, he led them to his kitchen. Blood and knives on a chopping board, a pair of small feet in the freezer.

How can that even be possible? How can that happen?

Every country has its own lost children, their names indelibly etched into a collective psyche. One of Australia's is Daniel Morcombe, a beautiful boy who was abducted while waiting to catch a bus in December 2003. He was thirteen, and he was never seen again.

You know that feeling you get, when your child goes somewhere but you don't know where? Running off in a shop, or down the street .. you panic and think, oh my god this is it - something terrible has happened and I will never see them again. Then they round the corner, or walk in the door. Of course they do.

Except when they don't.

Monsters exist in the world. They look just like you and me, but they shouldn't. They SHOULD have heads as big as a hot air balloon. They should have ten eyes, or a flat skull - some universal identifying feature that would send a child running far away.

A man was formally charged with Daniel's murder today. I watched the Morcombes stand graciously in front of cameras for a press conference, their voices wavering. I clutched my scarf as Mrs Morcombe bit back tears, no more hope at ever seeing her son alive again. Their official website crashed. #danielmorcombe is trending on twitter. He would be turning 22 this year - a man. It would be harder to bundle a man into a car than a small child.


Max asked me who the boy was, on my computer. I told him that his name was Daniel, that he got taken away from his family.

"Did a guy take him away?" (How do kids sense these things?)

"He did, sweetheart. But, they found the guy."

"He'll never get out of jail, mum."


Leiby's family have started a memorial fund in his honour $280, 000 have been raised so far. They have a goal of one million. I have no doubt they will reach it. In the days following their sons funeral, Leiby's parents had a sign fastened to their front door. "There are things that this family does not need know. Do not be the ones to tell them." I ache for Leiby's mum. I ache for Leiby, walking his feet down the street. Those feet.


What can I do, to help? I can give money, I can educate my children on the dangers in the world. People were asked to wear red today for Daniel. He was wearing a red t-shirt when he went missing. I wore a red scarf and got my boys in the shot, to upload to Styling You's facebook page. I nearly took the photo again, because I was not sombre enough.

Maybe the answer is to not be sombre, but to walk through life with joy and grace, giving thanks for all we have.


  1. Beautifully put. As mums the terror is never really far from the surface is it? xx Jo

  2. I've been that mum. The one whose son got taken away. The one that didn't know where he was and all because I left him in the car in my own drive way for 40 seconds and then he was gone. I've seen some pretty depressing comments about the whole wearing red thing today - people who don't get it, people who say it won't make a difference, people who say we shouldn't focus on ONE when so many others are missing. I have done something very out of character for me. I've been quiet. Because I got my little boy back, albeit a shadow of the boy that was snatched from my car and maybe I didn't deserve to... but I never got back my innocence and I never, ever stopped feeling guilty. So if Mrs Morcombe would like me to wear red and it gives her some hope that the red will make people remember and that they will be more careful then I'll be red, I will scream red from the fucking rooftops because I know what it's like to not know where your little boy is and that's something no mother should ever know.

  3. I have watched this story unfold with fear and sadness running through my veins. Cate, your comment took my breath away. You are right, it's something no mother should ever know.

  4. Eden, you have an incredible ability to bring such emotion to us through your writing. Thanks for linking up. And yes, Denise and Bruce would not want sombre. The annual Day for Daniel walk is held in October here on the Sunshine Coast every year. Hundreds walking and wearing red with pride. Today as I walk around my home town and see so many wearing red and so many posting on my Facebook page and on my blog, I know that a big, giant hug is being sent to the Morcombes.
    PS. My kids came home from school this afternoon wearing red ribbons handed out at school. It's the same school Daniel attended.
    PPS. Hug your children even more tightly tonight. Even my 16-year-old has not minded a hug from his mum.

  5. Sadness. It's no surprise to me that red is the colour for Daniel. x

  6. I can not put what I am thinking into words. I was here and I read and I am silent xx

  7. My stomach, usually made of iron, turns when ever I hear of such monsters.

    Some days, days like today, I wonder why we bother sticking around when such evil exists.

  8. So sad the world has such monsters and we have to explain it to our children without scaring them.

    We went red for Daniel too.
    I remember once I turned my back for 1 mins and didn't see my 11 yr old son catch the school bus (which I could see over the front/side fence - about 25m away across vacant block next door.)

    I got in the car and followed the bus the whole way round the bus route to school ,for 20 mins. I didn't honk the bus to stop just in case i embarrassed him. He was on the bus after all but I was filled with terror that he wasn't and a car has stopped and picked him up.

  9. A beautiful, heartfelt post.
    Thank you.

  10. I just don't know what to say. The imagiary of those tiny feet in the freezer... I haven't burst out crying like that in a long time, especially not over words written on a computer screen.
    I was only a little older than Daniel when he was taken but I don't remember much about it. But to see that his family may finally have some answers, even if they are the worst possible answers, just fills me with relief and sorrow. I just hope that others with children and family missing are able to receive some answers.
    I wore red lipstick today and my daughter wore red socks. It was all we had with us and all we could do but I'll do whatever I can to spread the word.
    I can not imagine what it would be like to have your child taken away. My little Lily is lying asleep on the couch next to me and my heart breaks to think of ever being separated from her.

  11. My heart cries for that family. And for all families that have lost a child to a monster. It's every parent's worst nightmare.

  12. My little boy is two. One of these days, he's going to want his independence. I don't know if I'll be able to let go.

    Eden, your words took my breath away. Tears.

  13. Those horrid monsters to walk among us.

    I don't know where they are or who they are, but I also know they do not only abuse other peoples children. They also abuse their own and often for long periods of time.

    Wearing red raises awareness that child abuse occurs right in front of us and we can do something about it.

  14. That little boy was from my city. My community...
    reasons like this are why i hate being a parent.. because when you hear or read stories like this... you get physically ill. you imagine it was your child.
    my heart aches for his family. The only son among sisters.
    i pray for them.

  15. I feel so sick to the stomach when i hear or read about these monsters and what they have done.
    Very powerful post Eden.
    All day I held my children tightly just thinking about the parents out there who can't anymore.

  16. I wish monsters had a universal identifying feature too. I'm in awe of your powerful post.

  17. I've been thinking a lot about Daniel. I've watched my big (little) girl whinge and cry today about some trivial tragedy and felt blessed that so far, the worst day of her life was when her favorite guinea pig died. And before I stopped myself I thought about Daniel's last day.

  18. Oh Fuck. Can I swear on your blog? I need to stop telling my kids there are no such things as monsters. Until they grow to be men who can protect themselves, there are monsters and they need to run like shit to get away.

  19. Eden. That is one of the most beautiful posts, and yet one of the most horrifying posts, and everything in between. It made me burn dinner. It made me reach for my children, and hold them tight. I don't ever want to let my children out of my sight, and yet that is part of it isn't it? We just have to trust, and hope, and pray that we never have to go through anything like the horror and the grief that these families have been through, and continue to go through. xx

  20. I had to read, I didn't want to but I had to read....

  21. beautiful and terrifying post. I am so scared for my children, there is so much wrong in this world.Those poor children.We wore red today too xo

  22. It's just too creepy.

    Love your work Mrs Riley. xx

  23. Such a comforting post about a horrific reality. The only chance we have against these monsters is to bring their actions to light and speak truth about them. All while we "walk through life with joy and grace, and give thanks for all we have". Beautifully put. And I think your son has your innate wisdom and compassion. What a refreshing, and rare, quality in a child.

  24. Those monsters are there, they are waiting. How is it that we do our very best to care for our children and teach them protective behaviours but we can't always protect them, we have to trust that others will love life and love our children as much as we do and that they will protect them. The gamble is high and it's bitter as all bloody hell.

  25. I send my children off to school on their own every day - for a beautiful walk together - I pray they never come in harms reach - and mourn for those who have.

  26. I too, was just so heartbroken over Leiby's story, and so amazed at the community's grace after such an horrific event.

    And Daniel's story has been another. I remember exactly what I was doing and where i was when I heard he was missing. I was watching my son take his first steps and I was doubled over in fear at that moment as my mind took me to the most terrifying of places.

    Your photo is perfect.

  27. When I was 5, I was that child. I was the child that 2 men were putting into the back seat of their car. When an elderly couple followed their gut, snatched me and took me to the police station, where my frantic mother had already raised alarms.

    I only remember flashes of this, but I will be forever grateful for the observance of that couple, and of how they followed their intincts.

    I think it is something we should all strive to be. More observant. More engaged. Pay more attention to children we see on the streets.

  28. I lost my little girl at the Airport and I run around like a crazy person looking for her. I found her, sitting on a old ladies lap sucking a lollypop. In those moments of her being missing and me nit being able to find her I felt such terror. I am one of those moms who will rather drive my kid to school that let them get on the bus. I do not let my daughter, who is now 9 even go to the shop by herself. I just cant find it in myself. A teenage girl has go missing in our area. It's been 2 months now and her posters are still up. Every time I see or hear of a child going missing I re-live the moments of terror I felt so many years ago. I had an Angel to take my little one on her lap, it could so easily have been a Monster.
    I agree Melissa, we should all be less self absorbed and more aware of the little people around us.
    You had me in tears Eden but I think we all need reminders to watch out for our kids.

  29. Dec 3, 1975 Maria Ridulph was abducted and killed. July 3, 2011 - 53 years later - her abductor was arrested. 53 years of not knowing. It's a story close to my heart.
    Eden, once again I sit in awe of you. You make us laugh, you make us think and today, you make us grateful that we did not have to put a sign on OUR front door.

  30. Eden, you have such a way with words. I am trying so hard to fight back tears right now. What a powerful post. Thank you.

  31. You know, I can't say a word after that.

    What can you say????

    Nothing at all.

  32. Incredibly moving and so sad.

    I live in an area where two boys, one gone for years and one gone for about 10 days, were found alive. It was just so unbelievable and surprising.

  33. Stuff like this is too hard for me to process. I know there are monsters in the world. I pray that neither I, nor my children ever meet another one. I can educate them, I can watch them, but I can't be with them 24/7 for the rest of their lives. So I believe that they will be safe, always safe and will always come home.

    Beautifully written, Eden. As always...

  34. Trust is such a rare commodity these days isn't it? Thats what those monsters have taken from us parents. Sadly, they have left us only with fear in it's place. And our children pay the price by never knowing the simple joy of riding their bikes around the neighborhood, or walking to the shops/park, etc.


    Gabs x

  35. So much evil in the world. I've tried to warn my kids, but how much can you tell them? How much can I control what happens to them when they're not with me? It freaks me out that there are such evil monsters in the world who do these things. I hope if there is a hell they live through it forever.


Write to be understood, speak to be heard. - Lawrence Powell

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