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He left and everything changed – a mother’s reflections

“Not a single day goes by I don’t think of him. Not a single night where he isn’t my last thought before sleep” Shirley Way, mother of Troy Minto.

Well. Today is the 14th of November and it is now 9 years since Troy had his life suddenly shot out from under him. 9 years, months, days, hours or minutes – all feels the same to me. Everyone’s lives have moved on, changed. Some of his friends have grown into good strong, decent functioning people, some seem to be stuck and struggling. Lots of them have families and children of their own, some have had their own disastrous tragedies to deal with and then there are those few, ironically, a few of his closest friends who have been brutally torn from their families and loved ones as well. Judd, Phil…

But things keep moving. His daughter, his nieces and nephews all growing. Never being able to know who he was, a father, an uncle, my son, my beautiful baby boy Troy. To them all he is just a name, a photo. Someone else’s memory. I still “feel” everything about him. From the moment he was placed into my arms, his smile, his quiet tears, those beautiful eyes. I still feel his pride, MY pride, when he played sport, broke records, when life felt so much easier even in its own craziness.

I still remember his joyous, childish laughter and as he began to grow into a man how it changed into that deep belly laugh. I still feel his sadness and his pain, his helplessness and confusion in those month’s his life felt out of control and the overwhelming happiness that Faith embedded into him.

I don’t know who he would have grown into. I don’t know where he would even be today if he were here. I do know though that I couldn’t have loved him more. Better perhaps, but not more. He came and changed everything. There’s still that breath-taking pain. Like tiny shards of glass that stab ruthlessly into my heart. That black hole that relentlessly beckons – the one that I will never be able to climb out from again.

Not a single day goes by I don’t think of him. Not a single night where he isn’t my last thought before sleep. I haven’t forgotten anything. I’ll never forget. How do you forget love… But I can’t ever forget either how he died, in a park, a stranger holding his hand, bleeding out from shotgun pellets that tore through all his life-giving organs. I can’t ever forget that or the image of the tent around his body and not being able to get to him. The overwhelming horror of it all like some slow-motion never-ending movie.

I can’t forget how it took from 2009 to 2015 for me to learn that in New Zealand there is no justice system but a legal system. A failed, corrupted system set up so that only the perpetrators of crime can benefit. I guess his death opened my eyes to a lot more than I had bargained for.

It has taught me too that you’re only a victim if you let yourself become one. That life has no value other than what we personally place on it. That justice, like love, is in the eyes of the beholder and has no time limits unlike law. I love Troy as much today as I ever did. I love that I loved him, and I know he loved me even though I could be a pretty shit mum. 9 years…. Doesn’t feel like it to me.