“I think the Australian public have taken and embraced that little boy because of his eyes and his smile. In every photo they pick up, there’s that happy kid.”
Not a truer word was said, Mr Bruce Morcombe.
Daniel Morcombe. Image via The Courier Mail.
Those blue eyes, that beautiful smile. They have been in Australian hearts for a long time, and nine years to the day since the 13 year-old went missing at a bus stop on the Sunshine Coast, Daniel Morcombe has finally been laid to rest.
Thousands attended the funeral service at Daniel’s old school Siena Catholic College in Sippy Downs, and it’s fair to say that millions of people around the country spent some time today thinking of that happy kid, and sharing the Morcombe’s pain.
“Even though we’ve had years of mental preparation, suddenly we had to go to a funeral director and have a look at a coffin and organise flowers and pick a grace plot at a cemetery,” Mr Morcombe told The Courier Mail in Brisbane.
“Even though we’ve had years of knowing ‘well, he isn’t coming home’ we had never done any of that – not one bit.
“It’s horrible doing that for your own child. It’s still bad preparing for a funeral for an elderly parent but you know that’s part of life’s cycle.
“For a kid it’s not the way it should be.”
After Daniel’s disappearance as he set off on a shopping trip to buy Christmas parents for his family on December 8, 2003, Bruce and Denise Morcombe became the prominent faces of a child safety campaign, using their own private agonies to help others with grace and fortitude.
Bruce and Denise Morcombe promised to “never give up.” Image via The Courier Mail.
“On the evening of Monday December 8, 2003, I silently promised to him I would never give up,” Mr Morcombe told The Courier Mail.
They never did. The began a child safety crusade and started a foundation in his name. Their relentless searching made sure Daniel Morcombe became the highest profile missing person Australia has known.
And Denise Morcombe never stopped looking for her son’s face in a crowd – for almost eight years – until October last year when his remains were found.
Brett Peter Cowan, 43, has been charged with child stealing, deprivation of liberty, indecent treatment, murder, and interfering with a corpse. His committal hearing is adjourned until February.
Yesterday the Morcombes called on mourners to wear red – the colour of the t-shirt Daniel was wearing when he went missing – and to remember the life he lived, and not his terrible death. Daniel’s older brother Dean, and his twin brother Bradley will be among the pallbearers.
Said Denise Morcombe: “I’m not looking forward to walking into that church and seeing the casket there. When they carry Daniel out – that’s going to be the saddest part.”
“We are all better people for having Daniel come into our lives,” Mr Morcombe said.
“I have probably been a better father to Daniel in the last nine years than I was in his first 14.”
“It is a sad reflection but I, like most fathers, wish I had spent more one-on-one time with him and cherished those moments.
“This has been a huge motivating factor in my relentless search for the truth.”
Daniel Morcombe would have turned 23 the week after next. May he rest in peace at last.
* Bruce and Denise Morcombe have asked that instead of flowers, donations be made to the Daniel Morcombe Foundation, which is active in child safety education and aims to prevent a tragedy like this happening again. Visit the site here.