"It is hard to believe it is thirty years today since my darling baby was taken.
For some odd reason everyone says you will soon forget.
Why is it that people expect me to forget a part of myself? Why would you? Loss of a loved one, particularly a child is not something you forget any more than you can get out of your mind that you once attended school.
That does not mean you dwell on it all the time. It is simply there in the fabric of your life and history. In some ways it seems forever and in others it is like yesterday still."
Image from here (Papers donated by Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton to the National Library of Australia)
For all the movies and telemovies and tabloid newspapers and magazine coverage, I had somehow forgotten that this woman lost her baby - lost her beloved 9-week-old daughter. And suddenly I thought, here is a woman who has survived babyloss - and she seems so functional. Not just losing a daughter (and never having the chance to say goodbye, because her body was never found), but on top of that, being accused of killing your baby as part of some cult ritual, enduring more trials, inquests and royal commissions than have ever been held on the one issue in Australia, being jailed and separated from her living children for over three years, and being at the centre of a media circus for most of two decades. And yet, here she is, self-possessed and able to articulate her position clearly and passionately. I think she deserves some credit for that.
I wonder - why do I care so much about whether people think I'm grieving "enough" or in the ways that they would expect? What standard am I trying to perform to here? If I don't fit within one stereotype ("good grieving mother, tragic, weeping") does that automatically push me into another stereotype ("bad, uncaring mother")? And this is where it comes back to Lindy, and to the way she was demonised by the media for appearing to be 'cold' when she had to give evidence at her trial for her daughter's murder. We grieve in the shadow of all these myths surrounding Lindy Chamberlain. For me it is a reminder of why we need feminism - to remember the force that stereotypes have over women, the way in which our bodies and stories are so often appropriated for other peoples' purposes. That sometimes we need to claw away all the stereotypes and speak for ourselves.
I have to give evidence tomorrow. Unlike Lindy, I won't be on trial for killing my daughter (someone else will be, though he's being charged with dangerous driving causing serious injury, not with with murder). But I'll be thinking of Lindy, and wearing sunglasses on the steps of the courthouse in her honour, and in memory of Zainab and Azaria and all the babies that we wish were here with us.
* I'm trying to think of the UK / US equivalents for the Herald Sun. Maybe the National Enquirer or The Post? Just think tabloid journalism at its trashy finest.
** I've re-posted this to get the date right