Words cannot express the extraordinary heartbreak over the two innocent people - a 38 year old loving mother of three who was also a distinguished barrister; and the brave 34 year old man who managed the cafe, and died trying to wrest the gun from the attacker - who lost their lives under horrific circumstances in the early hours of this morning, in the horror of the Martin Place siege.
Someone was only telling me yesterday, that when it all began to unfold, a friend of theirs noted on Facebook that this was the moment Australia changed forever. And to a certain degree, that is true. But what is also true - what is also stronger, and of far greater importance - is the way in which today Australia did NOT change. In which a vast part of her heart stood up and said "Still, I remain."
Because for all its flaws - for all the news pieces on racist rants on train rides and idiots with Facebook accounts spouting hatefilled diatribe against all that they actively refuse to at least try and understand - Australia at heart remains a land defined by exactly what so many people have taken to social media to voice, and done so beautifully: mateship.
We are the nation that only two weeks ago lost a son in a tragic accident on a cricket pitch. We are the nation that put out our bats: not just to honor a fallen brother, but to remind his family, friends and peers that they are not alone. Therein lies the truest example of all it is to be who we are.
We are a nation that holds fast to our own when darkness comes knocking, because ultimately we know that we will get through nothing if we don't do it together. When our hearts are challenged or breaking or stirred to their core, we stick with each other. We are a team. All of us. A team not defined by a race or a colour or an ideology, but instead summed up in the insurmountably wonderful sentiment, #illridewithyou.
We are imperfect, we falter and fall down but we get up; courage is our currency and mateship is our mother tongue. In such an environment, no matter how many attacks may come, it is proof that terror will never in the end triumph over the good will and deep heart of all it is to be Australian. Not so long as even the tiniest spark of such hope exists.
So wherever you are right now, whoever you are. I urge you. Tell those around you - show them - not to be afraid, because they are not alone. Be the embodiment of the spirit that fuels beautiful fires like the #illridewithyou movement. Because we are all in this together.
For myself, I am so proud of my country, even as together we mourn the loss of two innocent members of our own. Keep being excellent, Australia. I am so thankful to be your daughter today.
IMAGE CREDIT: © Aussie Vault - Australia Day