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By Kevin Unitt Friday 30 November 2012 Updated: 04/12 08:27
“DO you have children?” is a question asked of Sheena and Ewan Macleod every now and again, in general life, among strangers in restaurants or people they meet in the park.
It is not an easy one for them to answer. If they say yes then the follow up questions will eventually reveal the real situation, if they say no they are not being honest to themselves let alone others, if they say "we did have a child" then it has the cutting potential to spoil the day of whoever they are talking to. This is just one example of the balancing act that is life for the couple, still now, seven years on from the moment which tore them to pieces.
They are not, as one might suspect, a couple consumed entirely by grief, by anger, locked into the moment they lost their son Jack and unwilling to escape it. They are capable of much humour, of light-heartedness, even of bursts of fun. This is perhaps still their 'public face', even before me, a person who has grown to know them well and would consider them friends. They don't deny that there remains dark periods, months on end – particularly around the anniversary of his December disappearance back in 2005 – when they disappear.
But that darkness is perhaps not quite as potent as it was.
They continue to live in the same house along Tachbrook Road, at least in bricks and mortar terms. Months after Jack's death it became a shell, everything removed, furniture and beyond, as it all reminded them of the past.
Surely they thought of leaving the home altogether?
“Yes, but how can we move on when we still don't know happened?” is Sheena's open assessment.
To ask what life has been like for them these past few years is one thing, but the answers can never fully explain. The gravity of damage to their health, in a variety of ways, defies justice when listed on a page so we will refrain from the finer, more horrific, points. Suffice to say, under such stress and such emotional turmoil, the body begins to break down in different ways. They each – supported by a remarkable network of family and friends – keep rebuilding each other as best they can.
My own fear, I suppose, was that this renewed appeal might give the couple hope again that they maybe able to get the answers they so crave, only for it to prove fruitless and false.
But this is an astonishingly strong couple. That they are together still is proof enough. They are well aware that in such tragedies, losing children, it is so rare as to be abnormal for two people to remain together.
Asked about hope, they say, almost in unison: “Yes, of course there is that concern, but that is no reason not to do it. We are realistic, but while there is some hope the truth can still be revealed we have to go along with that.
“All we want, in order to move on in our lives, is for someone to tell us exactly what happened, and why.”
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