A family that wouldn’t be torn apart

So often we read stories that make us shudder – women and children being abused, sick people committing atrocities and so on.

But sometimes, despite the trauma, the human spirit triumphs.  And how inspirational that is.  I’m referring to Queensland couple Denise and Bruce Morcombe, whose 13-year-old son Daniel was abducted and murdered on the morning of December 7, 2003.

Daniel and his two brothers were meant to go fruit picking with a neighbour but it rained so instead Daniel decided to go Christmas shopping.  Brett Peter Cowan saw the teenager waiting at a bus stop, parked his car nearby and offered Daniel a lift.

On March 13 this year, a 12-person jury found Cowan guilty of Daniel’s gruesome murder.

The word ‘hero’ is tossed around a lot in our media and popular culture but, to me, Denise and Bruce Morcombe really are.  Reading their story, what I found most moving was Bruce Morcombe’s promise, made in the wake of his son’s abduction, that Brett Cowan would not tear apart the rest of his family unit.

It’s easy to forget that the Morcombe’s had two other sons – Daniel’s twin Bradley and older brother Dean – and had to ensure those boys were raised as normally as possible.

To that end, in August this year, the family will celebrate Bradley’s wedding.  The celebrant who will marry Bradley is former police senior sergeant Julie Elliott who, for five years, was the police go-to woman for the Morcombe family, until she had a breakdown.

The suffering is everywhere in this tragic tale.

Denise and Bruce Morcombe are very ordinary people, in the finest sense.  But their courage is extraordinary.  The Daniel Morcombe Foundation spruiks the message about “keeping kids safe”.  This Mum and Dad spend much of their time in classrooms, talking to boys and girls about three important words: recognise, react and report.  They impart wisdom that they wish Daniel had heeded.

They support others victims of crime too – paying for a complete bedroom makeover for a child who cannot face the room where their abuse happened, or redecorating child witness rooms across Queensland with children’s books, games and DVDs.

Bruce puts it simply when he says, “We try and help other people cope with their lives and give them some direction”.

No doubt Brett Cowan’s actions pushed Bruce and Denise Morcombe to the limit; physically, mentally and emotionally.

We can focus on the evil and sensational, as society often does.  But how much nobler to admire and laud two people whose commitment to their marriage, family and other’s well being seems to know no limits.