Heartbreak and light
IN a special report, Bruce and Denise Morcombe reveal the hell they have been through since the arrest of their son's alleged killer.
THE past few months have been like nothing else we have experienced before.
It is almost like the past seven and a half years didn't happen.
It's hard to explain but we have been through the emotional wringer.
Daniel went missing in 2003, but it's almost like we lost him again, just a few months ago.
We've spoken at length about the arrest, about wanting justice to take its course and the need to let the judicial system do its work.
But it doesn't make living it any easier.
We haven't really had a chance to mourn like a family usually would in this situation.
We aren't complaining - for the most part, it's been our choice to work harder than ever, to try and create some positives from this nightmare situation and to continue spreading the message of the foundation, which carries our son's name.
But that doesn't mean there aren't times when you wish time would just stop.
Hearing the news that they were preparing to stop the search was harder than when they put an official stop to it.
We had gone to our retreat in Tasmania, to try and take a breath but neither of us could switch off completely.
We returned to the Sunshine Coast just as the search was wrapping up.
The authorities have been wonderful in keeping us updated and we knew the time would come when they would decide they had uncovered all they could.
Still, it was a blow. Logically, you know they can't search forever. As a parent, you just want to bring your boy home.
After the search was called off, we went to the site as a family. It was our chance to stand in solidarity with Dan.
We know he is not there.
Daniel is not what happened to him, or where he was found. He's a beloved son and brother, adored grandson and nephew, a much loved and remembered friend and an enduring light for us all.
We see that light while speaking with school students, spreading the child safety message, which is such a big part of the foundation's work.
The talks are a balancing act of sorts. We want to make sure they take the message seriously, but we don't want to scare them to the point they think every car which passes them contains a threat.
So we are just as honest as we can be about what happened to Daniel.
Not telling our kids about the dangers in their world isn't protecting them from anything. They need to know to be aware of what's around them. Not afraid, but aware.
We let them know that Daniel was just like them. That he was good and happy and confident and knew where he was going.
The kids react how you would imagine kids to react.
They tell us they would yell and scream and fight their way free. It's a typical reaction - who hasn't thought as a child that you were ten foot tall and bullet proof?
But we try to teach them to avoid that sort of situation entirely.
We discuss simple measures, from having a family password so they can't be tricked into getting into a car to having Trusted Adults you can count on - be they family members, teachers, friend's parents or even your local police officer.
It's important then, that we listen to our children when they are trying to talk to us.
We also talk to the children about trusting their instincts. It's a simple message and one we could probably all re-learn - if it feels wrong, then it probably is.
Our foundation's annual Day for Daniel is October 28.
We are so grateful for the support which has been shown so far, but please, this isn't a day or a time to mourn.
This is a time to remember and to show our solidarity when it comes to child safety.
We have been touched by the number of people who want to organise their own walks, outside of the Sunshine Coast.
It's what we envisioned when we began this crusade. Not just one event which grew bigger each year, but many walks happening all around the country for the same cause.
We know the community has mourned with us and that many of you feel an emotional connection with Daniel and his story.
We know you want to say goodbye too. But we are still working out how we will be taking that step, let alone when.
In the meantime, we thank you again for your support and your strength.