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'I am home, but mother-of-two Andrea Lehane will never come home.'

“The sad thing really is that this tragedy could have been avoided.”

Milk, bread and blueberries are what we often run out of on a daily basis. These are the things I usually duck out to the local shops to buy almost every day.

Actually, my two boys and I just came back from the shops, we bought our milk, bread and blueberries, picked up some fish and chips for lunch and now we are home. That is the part filled with so much heaviness at the moment. I am home, mother-of-two Andrea Lehane will never come home.

Last week on Wednesday afternoon Andrea was at Carrum Downs shopping centre, possibly buying the last minute things her family needed for dinner. As she walked to her car, the only thing she would have been expecting was to be home moments later.

Instead the worst of tragedies unfolded.

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Mother-of-two Andrea Lehane. Image via Twitter.

Allegedly a young man on a mini-motorbike overtook a car that was stationary on the zebra crossing in the shopping centre car park. In overtaking the car he struck Andrea as she stepped onto the crossing. CCTV captured the incident as it unfolded and captured the group of motorbike riders speeding off after the collision. Andrea suffered catastrophic injuries; injuries that claimed her life just two days.

I work in the same precinct that Andrea spent her last few days. On Friday it seemed everyone had their heads cast low and something solemn hung in the air as we tried to carry on with our normal work lives. But it was impossible to ignore the ache that was in the air. For within the same walls a family was being ripped apart. A husband facing the death of his wife, his soul mate, his lover and two tiny little children who will never grow up to know their mother.

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As I read the news on my coffee break that Friday and read that Andrea’s husband would be bringing his three-year-old son and four-year-old daughter in to say their last goodbyes to their mother my heart almost broke in two for their pain.

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Andrea and her husband James. Image via ABC.

While we go through life knowing that our death will be unexpected and without warning, we certainly do not think that a simple ritual of going to the local shops is what will result in our death. No one does. No one should.

Home is our safe place. But home is not just a few walls, a roof and a boundary line marked with a letter box. Home is our community.

Home is our neighbourhood. Home is the local shops, the local library, the few neighbours you nod hello to and the lady down the street who brings in your bin every Monday while you are at work. All of this is our safe place.

A place that Andrea felt protected in and a place that until last Wednesday I felt protected in. A place that has been torn apart by a group of hoon motorbike riders with nothing better to do on a Wednesday afternoon than race through a shopping centre car park.

The tragedy in this situation is far reaching. Andrea will always be missed and her children and husband will always be remembered. Perhaps it will give each of us that moment’s hesitation before we do cross our own local car park. Perhaps it will stop the next motorbike rider from taking out his bike for a joy ride tomorrow.

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Thousands gathered at a candlelight vigil for Andrea on Sunday night, held in her local shopping centre, the same place where the tragedy unfolded. I often pop into my shopping centre late at night on a Sunday, quickly getting those last minute things we need for school the next day. The car park is an eerie place on a Sunday night, oddly quiet as most families are home watching television and winding down after the weekend.

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Thousands gathered for a vigil at the Carrum Downs shopping centre. Image via Twitter.

To think such a quiet and eerie space could be filled with thousands of people, gathering with candles lit and white balloons gives me a sense of hope. I feel that that among all the unanswered questions and agonising pain our safe place still does exist. It exists in our hearts and the hearts that gather in support, in respect and in honour when something as devastating as this happens. The sad thing really is that this tragedy could have been avoided. Our safe place never shattered.

Milk, bread and blueberries… I do not think I will ever take these for granted again. Or the moment when I go out to get them, quickly rushing back home to my husband and my sons. That is when I will always think of Andrea and send out a silent prayer for her grieving family and her precious children.

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