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The Maslins lost their three children in a heartbeat. The last thing they want is your pity.

The Maslins don’t want your pity.

They don’t want your tilted head, your narrowed eyes, your clucking tongue, that little ‘aw’ you make with your mouth just before you say something like “I don’t know how you get out of bed every morning.”

They don’t want your arm-pat.

Anthony and Rin Maslin on Australian Story. Post continues after video. 

They don’t want you to avoid mentioning three names – Mo, Evie and Otis – because you worry the sound will hurt them.

You can’t hurt the Maslins. They have lived through their three children being shot out of the sky by clueless militia and they have absolutely no time for your pain at their loss.

This is what Australia learned on Monday night, on an extraordinary episode of the always-unmissable Australian Story called After The World Ends. On it, “Rin and Maz” – Marite Norris and Anthony Maslin – spoke for the first time about being the poster-people for the horror of MH17 – the Malaysian Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur that was blown up by men in balaclavas with an earth to sky missile on July 17, 2014. An unthinkable mistake in a chaotic conflict.

The Maslins’ three children were murdered that night, along with their grandfather Nick Norris – Rin’s dad – and 279 other people who had absolutely no business dying over that remote east Ukrainian field. Eighty of them were children and the victims included citizens of 10 different countries. It was a blow from nowhere. Completely unpredictable. Entirely devastating.

The seven stages of grief. Post continues after audio. 

In the Australian Story interview, Maz describes the night he got a call from his assistant in the middle of the night. He and Rin were in Amsterdam, where the family had been living, and Nick was taking the kids back to Perth a few days ahead of their parents so they could get some work done. “Tell me your children weren’t on that plane,” the assistant screamed into her phone.

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And nothing would ever be the same again. As Rin says, there was life before “the world ended,” and life after.

The Maslins spoke about loss on Monday night’s interview, although loss is really not a big enough word. The unbearable peace of a house usually throbbing with the noise of children aged 12, 10 and eight and all the chaos that comes with them. How for a while there, Rin and Anthony really, really didn’t want to stay. How the friends who rallied around them changed that destiny.

But it’s not the Maslins’ loss you’re left with when Australian Story ends. You’re left with their positivity. Their energy. Their generosity. Their courage. Their all-consuming love for the children they know are with them at all times, and their love for the one who is right there in their arms, Violet, born in 2016.

When Australian Story ends, what you’re left with is love.

People who were loved enough, and love enough, to choose to live. And live fully.

Rin Maslin runs The Art Space Collective at Perth’s Scarborough Beach for anyone who needs an artistic outlet. She says the place is “driven” by Otis, Mo and Evie’s capacity for “welcome, fun and inclusiveness”. Anthony – a former stock broker and entrepreneur started a company called Wide Open Agriculture that supports regenerative farming in the Western Australian wheat belt.

“Putting positive energy back into people and the planet is something that makes me feel good,” he says about that.

Words that can feel empty in a sunset-hued Instagram post – “I want to stay away from anger and blame” ; “I want to live my life in as positive a manner as possible” – are anything but coming from the mouth of a man who has literally lost everything, and chose to live and live fully.

Although, as the Maslins say towards the end of Australian Story, they didn’t lose everything. Because they are still together. And they have their extraordinary friends and family, who formed the “web of love” around them who made sure they were never alone in those early months. And they have Violet. And they have their work.

And they have Mo and Evie and Otis. Because you never truly lose the people you love.

“I’m the father of four beautiful children,” Anthony Maslin says at the end of Australian Story. “That makes me a lucky guy. You might not be able to see three of them. But that doesn’t mean they’re not here.”

No, the Maslin family don’t want our pity. They want to give us something instead: The energy to push on with love, regardless.

You can watch Australian Story: After The World Ends, on ABC iView. 

Tags: maslin-family , news-3 , news-stories
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