12 May Finding Hope After the Loss of Her Daughter
Danny Mayson-Kinder looks for a way forward after a freak horse accident took her daughter Billie in 2016.
Our daughter Billie was only 12 years old when she died in a freak horse accident on 29 May 2016. I had just turned 50 and up until losing Billie, I would have been the happiest person I’ve ever met. I never took my life for granted. I can honestly say that I was totally content with everything I had. My girls, Charlie, 15, and Billie were my everything. Then in a blink of an eye, the world turned black and I have become the unhappiest person I’ve ever met.
Billie was an old soul, way beyond her years. Even as her mother, it still surprises me that she was only 12. One night, on a road trip back from Melbourne, she noticed an old lady sitting alone in the roadside restaurant where we had stopped. Billie felt sad for her and asked her to join us. That is the kind of thing she did. She was an extraordinary girl in that she had the gift of giving. She gave through her smile, her touch, her thoughtfulness, her random acts of kindness and her amazing gift of words. She taught me so much about life, loving and giving. She always wanted to know more, do more and be more, yet at the same time was always grateful for everything she had.
After the Accident
It feels like life without Billie isn’t really life at all. Her death has left a huge, deep, dark hole. A dry hole so deep that there is no treading water, only the horrific truth that every day I have to claw my way up to the top and be there for my other daughter, Charlie. It feels surreal. I keep praying with every fibre of my being that I have had an accident and that I will wake up from a coma and Billie will be there holding my hand.
Billie always held my hand. I dig my nails into my palm and pretend it’s her hand, I sleep in her bed, hug her pyjamas and pretend she’s in them.
Billie’s death has irrevocably changed me.
It has left me feeling isolated and detached. The world goes on and yet mine has stopped dead in its tracks. I know that I can no longer live like I did, no longer mingle amongst society and be ‘normal’. Every morning I awake to the reality that Billie is gone and every morning I lay there knowing that I have to choose, do I turn left and get out of bed or turn right and curl up into the pit of grief. It hurts beyond comprehension and I miss her to the point that the pain paralyses and crushes me. Her absence has obliterated the core of who I was. I was always aware of the terrible things that happen in the world, but they seemed to always happen to other people. But now, now I get it. I feel like there are two halves to this world – the happy, skip through life and enjoy all it has to offer world, and then on the other side of the median strip, the dark side where people live with unhappiness, pain and solitude. Same worlds, running parallel, but totally opposite. Now that I have been catapulted over that line, I no longer understand the world I have lived in for 50 years. What is it all for? What is the point?
As for the three of us now, we try our best to be there for each other. It’s hard when we all grieve in different ways. It seems to be getting tougher. Every milestone just makes it all the more real. What would have been her thirteenth birthday in February, what would have been her first day of school, what would have been our trip to the UK…all these things come and go and she’s not here. It is just so surreal.
The main thing people can do to help is to be with us, just sit and let us talk.
We always want to talk about Billie but a lot of people find that hard. Even though she isn’t here, she is still our daughter and we want to talk about her like everyone talks about their children.
Honouring her Memory
Billie had just been awarded an academic scholarship to high school in 2017 at Arndell Anglican College in NSW, based on her writing ability. She had always wanted to write a book and would often ask her dad and me what she should write about. After Billie died, we gathered up her poems, stories and artwork (some of which I had never seen but found going through her room) in order to fulfil her vision so that her own words can complete her journey. Billie’s book, HOPE, has become a reality.
Parents say that her book has helped their children with issues from lack of confidence to anxiety and depression. Children relate to a child’s voice, and some schools in Australia are using it for ‘circle time’ to talk about issues such as death and bullying, inspiring children to be kinder, more giving, more understanding and helping them make a difference.
To answer my question ‘What is the point?’, I turn to a poem in her book, called Hope. So for Billie and Charlie, I choose to turn left out of the bed, to keep getting up every morning, to keep moving forward. Because there is a point if you make one.
Everything is perfect, the sky is blue
Everything is perfect, the sun is out
Everything is perfect, the grass is green
Everything is perfect, the birds are chirping
Then within a blink of an eye
Everything goes wrong
Nothing is perfect, the sky is black
Nothing is perfect, there’s no sun
Nothing is perfect, the grass is brown
Nothing is perfect, there’s no birds
The sky is black
The grass is singed
There’s no sun
There’s no birds
There’s no happiness around,
Only sadness abounds
But even if there’s darkness, there can be light
Something’s different, I’ll tell you why
People have given up hope
They’ve found there’s no point in living
But there is, oh there is, there is a point,
If you make one.
You can buy Billie’s hardback book, $25, at flyhighbillie.com.
Billie was the 2015 NSW State Interschool Primary Show Jumping Champion and NSW State Overall Primary Champion Rider. All book profits go to charity, mostly to support assistance dogs as Billie loved animals. So far, $70,000 has been raised, including funds for a therapy dog at Bear Cottage, NSW, which provides palliative care for terminally ill children. Funds have also been donated to orphanages in Cambodia and Morocco.
Words by Danny Mayson-Kinder / Image by Cameron Stow