Kirra McLoughlin in what's said to be one of the last photos taken of her alive.
Kirra McLoughlin in what's said to be one of the last photos taken of her alive.

’Her eyes were big black holes’: Heartbreak for mum

"WHEN she was little, the thought of losing her would dissolve me into tears.

"Now every morning I wake up, as soon as I open my eyes I see her and it's just 'Oh god, she's gone.' Every single day. It never goes away."

MORE ON THE KIRRA MCLOUGHLIN STORY

- Still no date for inquest into Kirra's death

- 'Perhaps now the truth can come out into the open'

- 105 bruises but no clue to young mum's death

Alison and Kirra together on Kirra's wedding day.
Alison and Kirra together on Kirra's wedding day.

- 'I could hear Kirra screaming': Neighbour's haunting words

Alison Russell has always been a fighter, but every day is still a monstrous battle.

She clings tightly to every special memory she has of her only child, a daughter named Kirra.

Alison and Kirra formed a truly unique bond in their time together. They were sometimes more like best friends than mother and daughter, and other times clashing in evenly-matched battles of will.

They shared strikingly similar personalities, and in some ways only ever had each other.

But every happy memory comes with what Alison calls a "tinge of blue", because it's been more than five years since Kirra McLoughlin was stolen away from her family, her life cut short in the cruellest sense at just 27.

Kirra McLoughlin with her close friend Genevieve.
Kirra McLoughlin with her close friend Genevieve.

The mother of four died due to what medical records say was brain damage as a consequence of a head injury, with 105 "signs of recent injury" according to her autopsy report.

And then there is the lingering reality that no-one has been charged with causing Kirra's death, and there's still no sign of a long-delayed and now long-promised coronial inquest.

Alison's suffering is no less now than it was when she was forced to look on her dead daughter's eyes, where she lay in the Gold Coast University Hospital on July 18, 2014.

Her tears come thick and fast every time she relives the vivid horror of her loss.

"She had these beautiful dark brown eyes, her whole life they just sparkled with joy and mischief, and (when) I walked in there she looked like she'd done 12 rounds with someone.

"I went up to the top of the bed, and I opened her eyes, and they were just these big black holes. There was nothing there.

"I was standing there looking at her, and it was like this monstrous hand just reached out and grabbed my heart and tried to pull it out of my chest.

"They always told me that the last sense to go is the hearing, so I talked to her, the whole time I was there. I held her for hours and hours.

"I won't forget the way she looked.

"A young mother was robbed of the chance to see her kids grow up. And the kids were robbed of their mother."

Kirra McLoughlin, who died in shocking circumstances on Beenham Valley Road five years ago.
Kirra McLoughlin, who died in shocking circumstances on Beenham Valley Road five years ago.

'A hole that never heals'

Alison continues to struggle with the idea of living out the rest of her life while Kirra had hers unfairly taken, but she says she's still able to feel grateful for those last moments with her daughter.

She is resigned to the permanent pain associated with "being a member of a club nobody wants to be a part of", and finds it especially torturous when she thinks of her four grandchildren, forced to grow up without a mother who doted on them so much.

It is a tragedy no child should have to suffer through, but Alison says she will keep doing everything she can to make Kirra proud.

"I don't think the two younger ones even remember their mother at all," Alison says.

"Particularly with her daughter, I know how much she wanted that little girl from the word go.

"I couldn't cope with the fact she was growing up and Kirra wasn't here to see her.

"They're going to live with that every day. Like on Mother's Day at school and all the kids are making Mother's Day cards, all that kind of stuff. They have to deal with that and they shouldn't have to.

"It leaves you with a hole in you that never heals. I think closure is a myth. There is no closure. Your life is never going to be the same, no matter what.

"When Kirra died I told her I loved her over and over again, I promised her children would be taken care of, and I promised her that I would not stop until the person responsible was held accountable. I said that to her over and over again.

"The most comfort I get comes from the grandchildren.

"The eldest one is just like Kirra but in boy form, the youngest is like my mother and myself and Kirra. You can't miss Kirra in those kids.

"In many ways it's like raising her a second time. She's the same strong-willed, independent thing her mother was.

"I'm lucky to have that.

"There's a lot of gratitude in what she left for me.

"I try and do some of the Mum things, go to school parades and all the things she would have done.

"I'm trying to live in a way that would make my mother proud, and Kirra proud."

'Sometimes there is no comfort', but Alison still fights.

Despite admirable strength and a fierce determination to eventually find truth among the mystery still surrounding Kirra's death, sometimes the pain comes rushing back to Alison in all its brutality.

Finding peace through a connection with Kirra and nature at her home, Alison clings just as tightly to the hope she'll see her daughter again as she does to any of her memories.

There's warmth, too, in the recollections of her daughter's electric personality.

Alison knows she must keep fighting, not only for answers, but also because Kirra's spirit lives on through herself and the four kids.

"Without the kids I would have curled up in a ball and died five years ago. I had no other reason to keep going. They were my link to her," she says.

"There's times when nothing gives me comfort and I have to curl up and try and make the world go away. There's still that tinge of blue.

"There are definitely times when it's too much. The pain never goes away.

"But Kirra had such an electricity. She wouldn't back down and she never did, she wasn't a wallflower," she recalls.

"She was a livewire."

 

Beenham Valley Rd
Beenham Valley Rd
Gympie Times


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