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Monday, December 05, 2016

 

Jack is gone (NSFW)

Jack is gone. My beautiful boy will no longer slope off the Melbourne-Adelaide bus, gangly, rumpled, sleepy, and so very, very Melbourne. We will no longer drive home through the dawn, talking music, philosophy or just sitting together silently.

Because you fell in the bathroom and died. WHY DID YOU FUCKING DO THAT! HOW COULD YOU! HOW COULD YOU!

But you were always doing the unexpected weren’t you, you bastard. Peta and I were planning a hippy birth for you, with music and scented oils, but you arrived 6 weeks early and we had machines that went beep and nitrous oxide instead. We couldn’t even hold you at first, all curled up and purple in your humidicrib.  It was days later that you first held my finger through the humidicrib’s porthole.

You were born with talipes, clubfoot, and the splints and plasters on your ill-formed foot made you restless in the heat of the summer night. I would push your pram through the night shrouded streets of Elwood in the early hours, as I tried to sooth you to sleep. Walking with you under those dark skies brought me back to astronomy, abandoned by the pressure of study and postdoctoral research.

Later when I showed you a lunar eclipse, for ages after you called Selene “Daddy’s Moon”. Anyone who has heard my voice on radio, or seen me on TV, should know that it was Jack that started my journey to the media with those nights walking through the dark, trying to bring sleep to him.

Jack didn’t let his club foot stop him through all the splints, casts and surgery. From a young boy taking cricket runs, his cast puffing up dust, through tennis and soccer he persevered. He indulged Peta and my love of bushwalking, although together he and I did a long day walk sharing one of my favourite places, the scenic rim at O'Reilly's. We walked through cool forests of Antarctic Beech and gazed out over panoramas to the coast doing the silent male bonding thing. YOU STILL OWE ME A BUSHWALK ON THE HEYSEN TRAIL YOU BASTARD.

We didn’t know until after he died how much his club foot bothered him, and how he searched for a sport where he and his leg could be accepted. Jack finally found his sport in fencing. Lunging and parrying, with his skinny “bung leg” encased in his bright pink fencing socks he was never happier.

Was that what happened Jack? DID YOUR TRAITOR LEG FAIL YOU THAT NIGHT and bring you crashing down? Or did electrical storms surge through your fencers heart stopping it? Or something else, hidden from the pathologists art? We may never know.

Fencing was Jack’s joy, but writing was Jack’s passion. On the epic family road trip Jack sat in the back of the campervan ignoring 3,000 kilometers of spectacular scenery, writing his novella. From quirky and absurd to dark and serious, Jack launched Tasmania into space, made Satan a warbling magpie, rhapsodised over paralympic fencing and made a persimmon tree a dark harbinger of fate. His last story published before he died was Sudden Unexpected Death Syndrome. WHY THAT ONE JACK, WHY BLOODY HELL THAT ONE! I still can’t read it all the way through, I just can’t. Could you anticipate your story of unforetold death would foreshadow your own?

A young man on the threshold of new challenges, he now will be forever 19, future disappointments avoided, future achievements unrealised. But he will live on in the hearts and memories of his friends and family and in the students he mentored. He touched so many lives, not only through his writing for the student magazine Farrago, where so many Australian writers were launched, but through Farrago’s Jack Francis Musgrave award for Creative Absurdity which will honour Jack’s love of the quirky and inspire future writers.

His posthumous story "my Bung Leg and Me" to be published in Voiceworks, his first paid writing work, is a semi-autobiographical history of talipes. If this story helps even one person cope better with disability, it will be a fitting legacy. Jack had also become ambassador for wheelchair fencing, should wheelchair fencing take hold in this will extend Jack’s legacy into the future.

Jack is gone, in his place are pictures, stories and memories. Of all my memories of him this one comes to me most often; Jack and I, driving home together in companionable silence, towards the dawn, a new day, and a bright new future.

You can find more of Jack's writing for Farrago here
http://farragomagazine.com/contributor/jack-musgrave/

For those struggling, reach out to your friends and family, or maybe the Black Dog Institute can help
http://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/

Wheelchair Fencing at Fioretto Fencing Club, Victoria. Jack is no longer the contact of course, but contact Fencing Victoria directly if you are interested.
http://websites.sportstg.com/assoc_page.cgi?client=1-3825-0-0-0&sID=40399&&news_task=DETAIL&articleID=47665080


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Comments:
Thank you for sharing Jacks story. It's just so unfair, I can't even begin to imagine the sorrow you and your family are going through. xox

 
I have never met you Ian and after reading your blog, I can only offer words of sympathy, and, it is obvious that you and Jack were close. The hurt will fade, but the memory and love will stay strong.
I am sorry for you and your family's loss and wish you the best for the future.
Regards
Peter Haggarty
 
Thank you, it's a very tough time, but we are slowly getting better.
 
My thoughts are with you, Peta, family and friends. Thank you for sharing Jack's life. What beautiful, wonderful memories. Lighting a candle. Searching for the newest, brightest star in the evening skies.
 
My condolences to you and your family Ian. Been reading your blog for years and my thoughts are with you. Thanks for sharing Jack's story.
 
I have such a sadness and sympathy for you and your family Ian.
You have kept your childrens' privacy very well. I thought there must have been something serious happening i your family.
I can only imagin how I would feel in your place.
I'm glad you can feel he was special enough to share some of him with us.
Best wishes for you all.
Alan
 
Hi Ian and family,
I am Alex Mills's mum and I just want to say my condolences. Jack was a truly inspirational boy and I know that he had such a positive and everlasting influence on all who had the pleasure of knowing him. Alexander always spoke highly of Jack and I will always hold dear the memory of seeing him accept the award for History and Drama in Year 12 at Immanuel. I cried and smiled as I read your blog tonight Ian. Jack will be with us with your beautiful memories.
 
Hi Ian,
My condolences to you and your family.
Your post about your lose was nice.
Cheers
Andrew
 
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