A cartoon of an investigator

If I Went Missing I’d Want My Husband to Search for Me Until He Fell Over with Exhaustion

WHY didn’t Gerard Baden-Clay help in the police search for his wife?

Why didn’t he sit with her heartbroken parents, at the police press conference, and plead for the return of the beautiful and talented woman he married?

Those two questions keep swirling around, tormenting me each time I read or hear another police appeal for help in the unlawful killing of Allison Baden-Clay.

I didn’t know Allison; nor do I know her husband.

But they seemed like many of my friends: Gerard, a pillar of his local community as a businessman and volunteer, and Allison, who was incredibly bright but decided to sacrifice her own career for something she found so much more rewarding – bringing up the couple’s three little girls.

Her death is a tragedy that has gripped the state for the past two weeks.

We saw her parents do something no parent should ever have to do – look down the lens of a camera and ask for help in their daughter’s unlikely disappearance.

We saw her sister-in-law, shaking and in tears, plead with Allison to return home, and her parents-in-law support each other as no news became bad news.

I can’t imagine what Allison and Gerard’s three little girls are going through this weekend. I have two of a similar age, and it brings me to tears to think of the scars they will carry for life.

Gerard Baden-Clay is right to say they are his priority, and he is correct to employ lawyers to ensure they are protected every step of the way.

He too must be living in hell. He’s lost the woman he married, and the mother of his precious little girls.

I get all that. I understand that. But I just can’t understand why he didn’t rush to search for her with police and locals, and why he didn’t join her parents in the public police calls for assistance in finding her. I called his lawyer on Thursday, desperate to find an answer.

Perhaps I wanted to know that my husband wouldn’t make that decision; that he would collapse in exhaustion each night, only rallying the next day by a determination to find me.

I wanted to hear the same from Gerard Baden-Clay.

His lawyer Darren Mahoney politely declined my interview request. That’s his client’s right. Mr Baden-Clay certainly doesn’t answer to me.

Perhaps it’s easier for Allison’s husband to go inside his own cave, where men sometimes feel at home, and where he doesn’t have to think about the horror of what has happened to his wife.

We all deal with tragedy differently. Some grow strong in adversity; others collapse, not knowing what to do.

I know I’m not the only parent who still struggles to drive across the Story Bridge; the image of two horrible events blurring my thinking each time.

Sidonie Thompson lost her life when her mother Kim Patterson couldn’t escape the demons she fought so bravely for so long. She killed Sidonie and then leapt from the bridge.

And then Churchie teacher Jason Lees did something similar; throwing his two-year-old son Brad from the bridge, before jumping to his own death.

Each time I travel from one side of Brisbane to the other, those two children fill my thoughts; and I hope those they have left behind find solace in the enormous goodwill the rest of us feel towards them.

Driving through Brookfield will now take on a similar feel – a hope that those three little girls who Allison doted on, who she sacrificed her career for in an instant, will grow up knowing that she loved them more than anything.

That goodwill extends to her family, and her in-laws too.

I’m not sure it’s possible for a parent to get over the killing of their child, but Priscilla and Geoff Dickie are in all our thoughts and prayers.

To Gerard Baden-Clay too, the nightmare will continue. He’s lost his wife, and now must make sure the daughters they were bringing up together have a chance at a normal childhood.

But one day they will probably ask the same questions I keep asking myself.

Why didn’t you help police search for Mummy? Why didn’t you join Grandpa and Nanna at the police press conference and plead for her to come home to us?

Gerard, you won’t answer to me. I know that. But they will deserve an answer.

Photograph of Madonna King

Madonna King is a leading journalist and commentator. An award-winning presenter of 612 ABC Brisbane, she has authored 12 books and now works across radio, television and online.

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