There are days you should not look at the news. There are days it is incomprehensible. Days it makes you tear up at work in front of colleagues or in front of strangers by the school gate or supermarket, and then you berate yourself because it’s just a news story. You don’t know these people. This is not your pain to have.
But we are only human. And somehow through the longest, and often, most twisted of lines we are connected by life – and by death.
Four years ago Thomas Kelly was walking down the street in King’s Cross, Sydney, with his girlfriend when an intoxicated stranger, Kieran Loveridge, punched him in the face. A coward’s punch that caused catastrophic brain injury. Thomas died two days later in hospital. He was 18 years old. That was four years ago to this month.
Now, his little brother, Stuart, who was 14 at the time of his big brother’s death, has been found dead on Sydney’s Northern Beaches on Monday. Stuart was 19.
The Kings School headmaster, Dr Tim Hawkes, where both boys attended, released a statement last night:
“It is with great sadness that I inform you of the death of an Old Boy of the School, Stuart Kelly (’15). This is the second great tragedy to affect the Kelly family,” Dr Hawkes said.
“The exact circumstances surrounding his death are not known, however, it is enough to know that we have lost a member of our community and therefore our thoughts and prayers go out to Kathy and Ralph Kelly and their daughter Madeleine.’’
Two sons dead.
I can't even imagine, and don't pretend I can even come close to, the pain of Thomas and Stuart's parents Kathy and Ralph Kelly. Two people who after Thomas's death advocated ferociously for tougher mandatory sentencing laws for alcohol fuelled violence and worked to keep youth safe on the streets through the foundation they started: The Thomas Kelly Youth Foundation.
I can't imagine the pain of Madeleine, their loving sister who lost her eldest brother when she was 17 and now has lost her younger brother.
Last year at a dinner for The Thomas Kelly Youth Foundation, Stuart spoke:
"I look back at that moment: I was 14 years old, I was told by a stranger that my brother, my best friend, was going to die. Those few words would change my life forever,” The Daily Telegraph reports.
“I’m now 17 — that was three years ago. However I carry a deep scar that you cannot see. It’s always there, it never leaves. It sits below the surface of your skin and surfaces when you least expect it."
I look at the face of Stuart now splashed all over the news like his brother once was. I think of the pain he has had to endure for four years due to a senseless and random act of violence that already took his brother from this world.
It was probably an act that took no longer than three seconds and look at what it has wrought.
I look at Stuart's eyes in all those photos. I simply want to cry. For his family, for his friends, for Stuart, for every single child on the delicate and sweet verge of becoming an adult who is going out into the world. There is such random darkness out there. And pain that cannot be understood. Pain that the Kelly family now live every minute.
I'm so sorry for the Kelly family for their loss of another son and another brother. My sorry is less than a drop in the ocean.
I'm sorry for the pain that I know will come to so many teenagers walking into our adult world. Life is unfair.
I look at Stuart and I hope there is light one day for the Kelly family. Again it is less than a drop in the ocean, but I can still hope.
Watch Stuart speaking on The Project about his brother's death.