How Legacy saved us

Navy widow’s trib­ute to char­ity

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - NEWS -

JES­SICA Craig thought Legacy was just a char­ity that helped “lit­tle old war wid­ows” — un­til they stepped in after her hus­band, a sailor in the Aus­tralian Navy, was killed in a mo­tor­bike ac­ci­dent in 2017.

“My dad was in the army so you would see the old war wid­ows ev­ery year sell­ing the lit­tle cute military bears and I al­ways bought one, but I had no idea what Legacy did un­til my hus­band died,” she said.

Ms Craig’s hus­band Pete was hit by two cars while on a ride with his best mate in West­ern Syd­ney in Fe­bru­ary 2017.

The pair had been mar­ried for less than three years and had wel­comed their first child just eight months ear­lier.

“I bun­dled Jaxon up and we raced to Liv­er­pool Hospi­tal. I knew noth­ing, all I knew was that he was in a mo­tor­cy­cle ac­ci­dent and he was in hospi­tal,” she said. “I never thought he was dead.”

After be­ing led across the emer­gency room floor where she kept try­ing to spot her hus­band in one of the beds, she was ush­ered into a small room where two doc­tors told her Pete hadn't made it.

“I just kept re­peat­ing, ‘it's not true, it's not true, it's not true’ be­cause it was noth­ing that I'd even thought to ex­pect,” Ms Craig said.

Pete, whose own fa­ther had been killed by a drunk driver when he was just five, had been over­joyed by Jaxon’s ar­rival.

“He was so be­sot­ted by Jaxon, he’d do any­thing for him,” she said. “He’d said he didn't re­ally have mem­o­ries of his dad be­cause he was so young when he died and he wanted to be the fa­ther he didn't have.”

The navy stepped in im­me­di­ately to of­fer help. A stream of uni­formed friends and col­leagues vis­ited the griev­ing mum and more than 400 turned up at his fu­neral. But it was an early in­tro­duc­tion to Legacy that re­ally helped.

There is the on­go­ing fi­nan­cial aid that helps Ms Craig with day­care costs for Jaxon and as­sis­tance with sport­ing fees and other ac­tiv­i­ties, but it’s the emo­tional sup­port that is of­ten most needed.

“It's a re­ally in­te­gral sup­port ser­vice to vet­er­ans and their fam­i­lies and it needs more recog­ni­tion for what it does,” Ms Craig said.

“It re­ally gives you the op­por­tu­nity to talk to peo­ple who are in the same sit­u­a­tion and that sup­port re­ally helps nor­malise what you've gone through.

“If you're think­ing some­thing that you don’t know if it's a bit weird to think, and they're think­ing it too then it makes you feel OK about it.”

LEGACY WEEK BE­GINS TODAY.

Pic­ture: Flavio Bran­ca­le­one

Jes­sica Craig and Jaxon lost Pete ( in­set).

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