On 19 May 2017, Figen Murray hung a star-spangled banner in her lounge room and threw a family party in honour of her son, Martyn.
In just under a week, the 29-year-old was due to fly solo to America for what he hoped would be the trip of a lifetime. He’d been saving up his wages from his PR job for two years to fund the adventure and planned to travel all over the United States, from San Francisco to New York City.
“Martyn was a bit of a diva and he had lots of friends,” Figen told Mamamia. “So in true diva style he actually had four leaving parties – two with his mates, one with his colleagues and then the final one with us.”
That night, the family had takeaway and a few drinks.
“The family home had just been sold so Martyn spent some time reminiscing in his childhood bedroom and then suggested we get a photo, all of us standing in front of the house,” Figen said.
It is the last photo Figen has with her son.
Figen’s last photo with Martyn. Image: Supplied.
Because tragically, Martyn would never board the plane, never stroll through Central Park or lie on a Floridian beach like he’d dreamed of.
Three days later – on 22 May 2017 – Martyn was one of 22 people killed by suicide bomber Salmen Abedi at an Ariana Grande concert held at the Manchester Arena.
“On the night of the attack, my daughter Louise woke me up at 11pm and said she’d seen on Twitter there had been a bomb at the Manchester Arena,” Figen said.
Nobody could find Martyn.
Figen hadn’t even known he was attending the concert, but as she watched the news she could feel a mounting sense of dread.
“Suddenly I looked at Louise and I simply said ‘he’s dead’,” Figen recalled. “I know it sounds strange – but I just couldn’t feel him anymore. Couldn’t sense his energy. I knew he was gone. I wasn’t 99 per cent sure, I was 100 per cent sure.”
In the early hours of the morning, Figen travelled to the Etihad stadium with her partner Stuart – police had told families of the missing to wait there for more information.