The club no one chooses to join
THEY are members of an exclusive club of which no one would ever choose to be a part.
These are the poignant words of Margaret Marlow as we sit around a table in the dining room of the Eli Waters home of her best friend, Astrid Beath.
The two women lost their children in a car accident just outside of Bundaberg five years ago.
Astrid lost her daughter, Tanja, 25, and Margaret lost her son John, 36.
The two didn’t know each other, had never even met, before the tragic incident that connected their lives forever.
Since then they have given each other the strength to get through what both call the most difficult time of their lives.
The two women believe they would have struggled to cope with that period in their lives without each other.
That is why they are starting a support group, which they call FORT (Families of Road Trauma). They want to provide the same help and support to others that they were able to give to each other.
“We know the need to have someone to talk to,” Margaret said.
It hasn’t been easy for the two women to move on from that time in their lives.
There are good days and bad days.
Tanja’s daughter, Taneesha, was three years old when her mother died.
Now 8, she still wakes up crying, missing the mother she lost at such an early age.
Astrid said that was the worst part – the pain felt after losing someone may ease but it never fades.
The two have thrown their support behind the Chronicle’s Drive 2 Stay Alive campaign – if it can save just one life it’s worth it, they say.
The women commemorated the fifth anniversary of the passing of their children on August 2.
They released balloons into the sky with messages of love written on them. Margaret’s balloons were red and black because John was a big Essendon supporter.
Seeing stupid behaviour on the roads is no longer a source of annoyance. It’s so much more.
It’s a source of anger and frustration.
Astrid was cut off by a P-plater when she was dropping Taneesha off at school in yesterday’s wet conditions and she admits she felt like getting out of the car and screaming.
She has seen what results from a severe accident on the road.
“If it’s a bad road, go slower,” Astrid said.
“Drive to the conditions.”
Margaret believes there are too many people driving around who think they are bullet proof; who think it could never happen to them.
“Think of all the people in your life; it affects their lives drastically,” she said.
“If you think it’s not going to happen to you, think again.
“When are people going to stop? When are people going to realise?
“You only have one life and it’s too late when it’s gone.”