real life

The cruel twist of fate that hit Leigh Sales, shortly after writing about sudden tragedy.

When Leigh Sales began interviewing people about sudden tragedy for her book, she couldn’t have guessed that just months later she too would know what it was like to have her world turned upside down.

In July, just a few months before her book Any Ordinary Day was released, the 7.30 host received a call from her family.

She was told that her father, Dale Sales, had suffered a heart attack and wasn’t going to survive. She needed to board a plane to Brisbane to say her goodbyes.

Speaking to Mia Freedman on Mamamia’s No Filter podcast this week, Leigh wondered if she had tempted fate.

“It seems like writing a book about blindside it feels almost like I invited something like that to happen to me,” she said.

However, she also said interviewing people who had also lost loved ones suddenly, such as Walter Mikac – whose wife and two little girls were killed in the Port Arthur massacre – helped her prepare, in a way, for this “very sad time”.

“Dad was on life support and I knew that I needed to be there when he actually died – which I think I might have been scared to do before I wrote the book,” she told Mia.

The journalist added that the extensive research she’d done on the brain and how people respond to sudden trauma also helped her to understand why she was behaving in certain ways.

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“I was powerless to stop it. But I knew what was happening, and I took some solace in the fact it was normal.”

Leigh said while most people have accepted that one day their parents would die, she could never have prepared for the awful situation she found herself in.  She compared the feeling to an avalanche –  as if her childhood had collapsed around her.

“Losing your parents is one of the expected losses of life, but I think that nonetheless when it happens it is really unsettling. It’s like the rug gets pulled out from under you.”

Still, she had to return to her home in Sydney and immediately carry on with life, caring for her two young sons, Daniel and James.

“Life just goes on. I couldn’t just lie down in the gutter and scream with grief and irritation and unfairness,” she said.

“Kids just force you to be doing all the daily things of life.”

You can listen to Mia’s full interview with Leigh Sales here. Or download it from your favourite podcast app.

You can pick up Leigh’s book, Any Ordinary Day, at all good bookstores.

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