by CAROLINE OVERINGTON
This is an excerpt from an article in The Weekend Australian magazine. Caroline Overington interviewed bestselling author Matthew Reilly, whose wife committed suicide late last year. This is his story.
…The Reilly who opens the door of his home in Sydney’s Willoughby a few weeks ago is in almost every sense different. He is pale, and his clothes hang ever so slightly on his frame. To look into his eyes is to see a man who has suffered, and is suffering still. Reilly’s latest book, Scarecrow and the Army of Thieves, was published last October, and in November Reilly left on a tour to promote it. In early December, while he was gone, his beloved wife Natalie died, leaving him a widower at the age of 37. The cause of death was suicide.
Sorrow has engulfed him. Reilly and Natalie had been together since they were 18. He had never taken a step in his adult life without her by his side, and then she was gone and in the immediate aftermath of her death he didn’t know what or who he was without her. And so here he stands in the kitchen of the lovely old home they shared together, a gentle, ghost-like soul moving quietly around the kitchen, preparing a cup of coffee and then softly crying for a loss that is immense and raw.
… Asked what he loved about Natalie, Reilly says: “It’s simply that we were not the same. It is almost that perfect match, in that I would lean forward and she would lean back … She was gentle, and kind, and generous to a fault.”
The couple wed in 2004 and they settled into married life. Natalie started work as a psychologist in working-class communities “where she was really at the coalface, working out of demountable buildings at the hospital with people with severe mental illnesses” but she found the lack of support for mental health patients difficult to bear and, after watching her despair, Reilly told her: “The books have gone pretty well. If you want to stop work, why don’t you stop and think of doing something else?”
They discussed the possibility of starting a family but at 33 Natalie said she wasn’t quite ready. They had nieces and nephews they adored, and a lovely black labradoodle called Dido that they doted on. Natalie decided to take up yoga and then marathon running, which might be considered a positive thing for somebody in the process of taking stock of their life but, as Reilly explains, “the problem was that she became obsessed with it. The running, and then the fitness… it was as if she could not stop. She started to eat less and exercise more. She went from being really trim, with a terrific physique, to being skeletal…”