erickawaller.com logo  
erickawaller.com logo
erickawaller.com logo

I don’t know what to say about Andy Hill being acquitted of the causing 11 deaths. Maurice joked once, when we took the kids to a steam show, and moaned it was boring, that it wasn’t fun, and it wasn’t fair.

Life isn’t fair. People get away with murder. People who save lives get paid less than people who kick footballs and drink drive. Money buys privilege and freedom. If Andy Hill had been driving a car and killed 11 people, the outcome would have been different.

Was it a fair trial, a fair jury? My husband was in the RAF for seven years. He went along to the Old Bailey while the case was being heard and didn’t have a clue what they were all on about, so how could Joe public have stood a chance? The judicial system was not fit for purpose. A technical case needs a technical jury.

Life is full of back-handers and secret-handshakes and money crossing palms. People are not always innocent until proven guilty. Sometimes they are guilty until their innocence is brought. It’s a scary thought, and as the Idles sang ‘Fear leads to panic, panic leads to pain. Pain leads to anger, anger leads to hate.’

I don’t want to be full of hate and resentment. It’s like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die. I don’t want to be full of cancerous thoughts. I want to be full of life. That is the privilege taken away from the 11 men, whose names I don’t believe Andy Hill had any right to read out loud.

If I were to die suddenly, at the hands of someone else, I’d want the people I love to live harder than ever. Not less, not with a belly full of rusty nails and bitter lemons.

I’m not saying it’s easy, or achievable. My thoughts are with the family and friends of the people who died. They were carved from us without warning, like an ice cream scoop in the heart. Stolen from the lives they were leading, the people who needed them, and the places they were supposed to be.

I still think ‘if only Maurice had been two cars behind’ which is a wicked thought, because then it would have been someone else’s pain and loss. How could I wish tragedy on a stranger? By the same token, how could Andy Hill want to be let off?

The guilt would consume me. That I could come and go, as and where I please, eat a nice dinner, drive a nice car, walk to the local shop on a Sunday morning for the paper and eggs for breakfast. That I could do all those things when I’d been responsible for 11 people’s hearts stopping. For a river of tears. For a grief that twists like a knife and turns loved ones into howling animals. Food would choke me. That the same hands that lost control and killed, could cradle a newborn, or applaud in joy. It’s crazy.

Andy Hill being behind bars wouldn’t bring anyone back, but his pardon stings. He is a free man, walking and driving. I’ve heard rumours he’s still flying, and there is a hole in my life where Maurice used to be.

It’s no good to think this way. I need to appreciate the spring that he is not here to see. I need to walk my dog, the dog he loved, hid biscuits in his pocket for. I need to play my (awful) music loudly.

So it’s not a lack of caring that makes me find something to smile about. It’s that I care so much. I don’t believe everything happens for a reason, or that there is a man called God and he lives in the sky contentedly stroking his beard as these atrocities happen.

My faith is in the human spirit and our ability to prevail. I believe in nature, in how we can hack back a tree to the tiniest splintered stump and it will grow back bigger and more beautiful.

I believe in the unconditional love of dogs. How penguins huddle together holding their eggs on their feet in the bitter cold for months. Surviving on nothing but snow. How a honey badger will take on anything and anything. I believe in evergreen trees and hummingbirds.

Maurice is in the earth. He’s in the wind and he’s laughing when it knocks me sideways and snatches my poo-bag so I have to pick up Buddy’s dog-eggs with two sticks and a grimace. He’s in the sun that floods through my window, and the smell of the pavement after rain. There is a piece of him in the moon, and on the white tips of the waves when they crash over the marina wall. That is what I tell myself, what I have to believe.