DENISE and Bruce Morcombe speak poignantly about their week since a man was arrested over the death of their son Daniel.
THIS has been a difficult week.
There hasn't been a lot of time for quiet or moments where we can just take in everything that has happened.
That's just the way it is though. We understand that there is a lot of interest in Daniel. That a lot of people have almost adopted Daniel as their own, that they feel emotionally connected to his case and want him and us to find justice.
It can feel crushing at times to be under so much scrutiny. It has been hard enough going down to the shops at times over the years, to do the daily things like grab milk, without noticing that people are noticing us.
This week has made it almost impossible. It can be a bit of a shock stepping out. We have spent so much time surrounded by the media where, at times it can feel like a bit of a bubble, that stepping outside of all of that and doing the day-to-day things we all need to do, it's an adjustment.
Making that adjustment can be exhausting at the best of times and this week, when everything has been ramped up, it's been even more so.
Seeing people wearing red in memory of Daniel does help.
Obviously, we would keep on doing what we are doing even if it was just us and our family keeping his memory alive.
But to know that so many strangers are thinking of Daniel helps keep us all motivated.
It is hard to put into words the gratitude we feel for the people who have spent the week searching for our son.
We have been out to the site, we know what they are up against and we know they are determined to spend as long as it takes.
The police have kept us as involved as they can.
We didn't know about the operation to bring Brett Peter Cowan (it still seems strange being able to publicly use his name) back to Queensland until the police called to tell us they had made an arrest.
We had been on our way to a 21st birthday party when we received the call.
It's a call we have waited for, ever since Dan didn't come home from his Christmas shopping trip on that December day and one we didn't give up hope of getting.
But it can be strange to think how life has moved on.
There is not a day that goes by, not a moment, where we don't think about him.
For us, Daniel is frozen as an almost 14-year-old. But we've all grown older. His brothers have grown older and his friends are growing older. That's just life. But all these milestones do bring home just how long he has been missing from our family.
Our boys are men in their own right now. We know that there are a lot of people who want to know how they are, what they are thinking, if they are doing okay.
For the record, they are doing as well as you can expect. But they make their own decisions. They are involved in the foundation and our work in their own way but they have their own lives to live. We respect that.
Being available to the media is part of what we need to do to raise awareness of what the foundation does. It doesn't mean that our entire family is open to the media.
For the most part it's not that bad. The majority of people we meet are understanding and polite and do what they can to spread our message. Yes, it's hard to open a paper and see a giant close-up of yourself. And there are days when it is too much to see yourself so exposed and stories when you question the angle.
All we can do is try and put a positive spin on it.
On the one hand, the publicity can sometimes be a little overwhelming. But it is also what makes spreading our message possible.
This week has been testament to that. We hope you've seen the stories about the work the foundation does.
When we set up the Daniel Morcombe Foundation, it was with three goals. One was to ensure children learnt protective behaviours, to try and make sure no child finds themselves in Daniel's shoes. The second was to help child victims of crime and abuse, to help those children reclaim and rebuild their lives. And the third was to keep the search going for Daniel.
In the past few years, we've spent almost no money on the third goal.
We've never hired a private investigator or anything like that.
Our main objectives were to spread the child safety message as far and as wide as we could and to help as many children as we could.
That help is different in each case because each child is different. It could be keyboard lessons to help them indulge a passion or curtains to keep the media out.
It might be therapy to help them regain a voice or picking up the bill for a school trip to help them feel normal.
The Daniel Morcombe Foundation has helped well over 100 children and often the child knows nothing of where the gift has come from.
We liaise with support groups and charities to find out what is needed and then pay the supplier directly to ensure the children receive it.
Other than the necessary administration costs – we have to pay for all those pens and badges and DVDs we sell and give out – the donations we receive and the money we raise goes towards helping some of our most fragile children recover parts of themselves.
We're about to head off on a massive journey to continue spreading the child safety message to schools up north as part of child protection week.
It's going to be us and our big red trailer and from Brisbane to Cairns and everywhere in between we are going to tell Daniel's story and teach them behaviours they can use to protect themselves.
It's going to be hard at times. To make all the schools that wanted to see us, we can only spend an hour in each place before we have to move on to the next. Since the news broke about Cowan's arrest, we've had more people contact us to ask if they can take part and we're going to try and see them on our way back down.
Daniel has helped countless children. It's what we wanted his legacy to be and why we work so hard to protect it and keep it moving.
So this week has been challenging. Receiving that phone call was both a relief and petrifying. The phone hasn't stopped ringing since.
Hearing the news about the shoe has sent our emotions on another rollercoaster. It could be the first real piece of physical evidence. The key word there is could. We still don't know for sure.
All we know for sure is that the legal system is under way. And so, we urge you to show restraint in your comments about Cowan. There are rules and laws we need to respect. We don't have time to trawl over our Facebook site removing posts, which could jeopardise the case. Instead of concentrating on the negativity, we would prefer if you looked to something more positive, like the foundation.
Many of you have and we thank you. We've received almost $50,000 in donations and merchandise orders this week. It means the foundation stays alive. It means more DVDs can be ordered to carry our message further afield. It means more children will get what they need.
We hope that knowing that will help you feel like you have made a difference with your donations, because you have.
Right now, there are more than 1000 unread emails in our inbox. We haven't started replying yet because we truly haven't had a spare moment. But once again, we thank you for your kindness, your thoughts and your prayers.
There have been more devastating moments then we can count since December 7, 2003. There are more rough times ahead.
We are just taking everything a day at a time. Sometimes, just a moment at a time. We get through one and then we get through the next.
We find motivation in our family, the foundation and the people we know Daniel's legacy has helped. It keeps us going. And we know there is one star, which shines brighter than the rest. It's why we won't stop.
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