It was still hot. The soft drink cans would have to be cooled before Barry could open them. I wished I had brought some ice in a little Esky to keep them cool. Still, I had not realised it would all take this long. And I had brought the drinks. I fleetingly wondered if I should have bought some food for Barry as well. But no, the women's auxiliary would probably have plied him with scones and sandwiches at the evacuation centre. Barry always liked scones. He used to buy two plain scones at the Whittlesea bakery on his way to work some mornings. I felt sure he would just be desperately in need of a soft drink after being forced to drink tea for so many hours; food would not be a problem. Up ahead of me I saw the police officer get out of his car.
Local teacher Sue Gunningham waits impatiently in her car for news of her long-time partner Barry Johnston, who has been declared missing in the savage bushfires that would come to be known as the 'Black Saturday' fires. She worked that morning, Saturday 7 February 2009, and so was not at home at their cottage 'Waldene' near Kinglake when the bushfire swept through. Little does she realise that the loss of her partner is just the beginning of her battle to keep a place for her in his life ... and to save the memory of their love.
The book is divided into four sections: 'Lost' (the frantic search for Barry in the days after the fire); 'Stolen' (dealing with the Coroner's identification process, solicitors and the funeral parlor in a struggle to have Barry's remains identified and returned to Sue); 'Examined' (the continual round of formal interviews with police, case managers, psychologists and the Victoria Bushfire Royal Commission); and 'Rebuild' (dealing with the burnt-out site and trying to rebuild both the cottage and a life).
Raw and compelling, All the Days After will resonate with anyone who has suffered through devastating grief. It is Sue's personal story of love lost, grief and rebuilding, but it is also the story of the lesser known aftermath of a major tragedy; one involving family disputes, inquests, a Royal Commission and more, and how events play out when you're involved on the inside as opposed to being a remote spectator.
About the Author
Sue Gunningham has worked as a teacher, university lecturer and private education consultant. She currently develops and delivers financial literacy workshops to remote indigenous communities and disadvantaged groups in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Regions. She has co-authored or contributed to 13 teacher references and textbooks, and her fiction has appeared in two anthologies Time To Write (2014) and A Tapestry of Words (2014). Although the Country Fire Authority classified the landscape at Waldene as being of the highest risk for further bushfires, she obtained permission to rebuild and is doing so in Barry's memory.
"All the Days After "is not only compelling reading but a testament to the strength of the human spirit through unimaginable heartache. Sue s strength, courage, fortitude and infinite beauty are inspirational. It was a privilege to have walked a few steps with her on this journey." - Major Glenys Ford
Number Of Pages: 272
Published: 1st November 2015
Country of Publication: AU
Dimensions (cm): 21.6 x 15.5 x 2.0
Weight (kg): 0.35