Yesterday, while my family and I were in the car together on a stretch of insanely boring road, my little boy started seeing shapes in the clouds. “I can see a turtle with a cap on. There’s an eye over there, and look…there’s a dinosaur!” My son Luca will be seven in a week and as he chattered away in the back seat, I turned to my husband and said, “He still sounds like a baby, doesn’t he?” He has three teeth missing, so when he talks his little tongue rests in the gaps and gives him a lisp. His voice is still high and a bit squeaky and when he answers the phone, people often mistake him for his sister, which he hates.
As I listened to Luca’s voice, I couldn’t help but think about Julian Cadman, the seven-year-old boy who was missing after being separated from his mother during the terrorist attack in Barcelona on Thursday. My mind only allowed me a couple of seconds to imagine a lost little boy with dark hair and a cheeky smile, possibly injured, searching for his mother amidst the chaos before I had to shake the thought away. You don’t need to be a parent to be affected by stories of lost or harmed children, but there’s something that cuts further into your core when you are. Your mind imagines your own child in that circumstance and just the thought, even for a moment, is too much to bear.
And then this morning, the world woke to the news that little Julian Cadman was gone. Like most of us who have been following the story, praying that Julian was safe and being cared for by a good samaritan, my throat tightened when I read the news. The miracle we’d all been hoping for was gone – and so was the beautiful boy who should have been looking up at the sky and making shapes out of clouds just like my son.
I can’t stop thinking about Julian’s father, Andrew, sitting on a flight from Sydney to Barcelona after receiving the news that his wife and son had been involved in the attack. The helplessness and fear he must have felt in those hours is unimaginable. And then there’s Julian’s mum, Jumarie. A woman who at one moment was enjoying a holiday with her son and the next, begging for help to find him after they were intentionally mowed down by a van. Right now, she is sitting in hospital recovering from surgery on her legs and I can only imagine that she is broken in every way possible. All of the hopes and dreams she wished for her baby will never be realised. His voice will forever be that of a seven year old boy in her mind, never to grow up. She will never hold him in her arms again or kiss him goodnight. I can’t think of a terror worse than that.
Julian’s family released a statement following the confirmation of his death:
“Julian was a much-loved and adored member of our family. As he was enjoying the sights of Barcelona with his mother, Julian was sadly taken from us.
He was energetic, funny and cheeky, always bringing a smile to our faces.
We are so blessed to have had him in our lives and will remember his smiles and hold his memory dear to our hearts.
We would like to thank all those who helped us in searching for Julian. Your kindness was incredible during a difficult time.
We also acknowledge we are not the only family to be affected by the events, our prayers and thoughts are with all people affected.”
In the face of the biggest nightmare of their lives, these beautiful people have found it within their sorrow to think of the others who have lost their loved ones also. There’s so much hope in that single line; that in all the pain and suffering inflicted around the world, from Barcelona to Syria, from Paris to Palestine, there is still unity. There is still hope. And above all, there is still love.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to Julian’s family, especially his parents, Andrew and Jumarie, who are grieving the loss of their beautiful boy. We hope they feel the love of the world enclosing around them and supporting them from afar during this time.