Let’s talk about Karl

By Sue Austin

I lost my son Karl in August 2019 and he spent the last ten days of his life in Forest Holme. Karl fought a long 9-year battle with Melanoma and was just 39 years old when he passed away. Karl had a wonderful circle of friends who he had kept in constant touch with and were a wonderful support to him during his illness.

One day during August last year I decided it was about time I went through some of Karl’s photographs and memorabilia, something I hadn’t been able to face doing it before. I came across some photographs of when he went travelling across Australia in an old camper van with a friend. I thought about these photos and wondered if his friend Matt, I decided to email Matt and send him copies of the photos. He immediately responded and was so pleased to hear from me. He went on to suggest that any time I would like to meet up and chat about their travels together he would be more than happy to do so.

This then gave me an idea …. It would have been Karl’s 43rd birthday on 2nd  September 2022, so I decided to invite a few of his friends around to my house for the evening. These were the friends that Karl went through grammar school with and later they went on their adventures together travelling around the world.

I contacted four of them, as well as his oldest friend who he went through school with who now lives in Canterbury. To my amazement they all accepted and were really looking forward to it. I told them that beer and sausage rolls would be on the menu and that I would like them all to think of a funny story they could share; hopefully one that wouldn’t surprise or shock me too much! I called the evening “Let’s Talk About Karl”.

When the day arrived, I was very apprehensive and nervous questioning myself if I had done the right thing – was it going to stir up too many painful memories that I had tried to bury or put behind me? Also, was it going to be awkward for Karl’s friends thinking I may be upset?

I needn’t have worried the evening was such a great success, filled with laughter, stories of their travels and all the antics they got up to. Thank goodness I didn’t know at the time what my adventurous 21 year-old was up to as I would never have had a moment’s sleep! It was also just wonderful to have my house filled with Karl’s lovely friends again, the same ones that used to sleep on my floor and eat all the food from my fridge and mess up my bathroom.

They are all family men now with children of their own but their obvious love for Karl came through loud and clear. I was just so glad that I organised that evening. It really lifted my spirits more than I can say and reminded me just how proud I was of Karl and touched by how much his friends thought of him.

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