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“My late partner bought this bracelet for me at a seafood festival in Apollo Bay on the Great Ocean Road in Australia. After a surf mission to a secret spot, we’d driven into the Bay to catch the festival. I clearly remember looking at the bay from the top of the ferris wheel with him - he’d always take me on sweet missions whenever we had the time together. Shortly after that, we did long distance, so he wore the bracelet to remind him of me when we were apart.

He came to visit me in New Zealand, and on this visit he tragically passed away when we were freedom camping in Raglan. The bracelet was the only thing he was wearing when I watched him take his last breath. When the detectives asked me if there was anything they could salvage for me from our van, it was the one thing of his that I asked for, and they brought it to me at his funeral in Australia. I didn’t really keep any physical objects of his other than this.

The bracelet is a reminder of what our life together and his death taught me about being present, as cliche as that may sound. I never thought I would get out of that huge period of grief and darkness that followed his death. Now I have come out the other side, I think I’ve changed how I approach the world. I carry his words with me as I move forward, especially when I’m out surfing, as that was something we shared together. He was a big wave surfer, wild for the thrill and the danger, his green eyes always swirling with energy, especially when I’d look at him immersed in the sea. I always hear his words in my head when I’m out in bigger surf, telling me that I shouldn’t be getting scared and looking for an escape when the sets come, but that I should be trying to line myself up to be on the monsters! He said to me if I could at least try to get the biggest wave every time I surf small/medium waves, I’d get braver and braver before I knew it. And he always reminded me that it’s much better to wait on the beach an extra five minutes and study the ocean before getting in, rather than running in blindly with no plan. He made out to be a goofy surfy party boy, but he was probably one of the more profound people I’ve ever met. I will never forget his infectious smile or all the ways he taught me how to love better.

I thought my life was over when Sean died, I felt completely numb and hopeless. I would wake up crying and go to sleep crying. Eventually I found a counsellor who helped to change my perspective on things. He reminded me that I am quite lucky to be alive and with him I was able to realise that I could grow from my experience and go on to live a deeper life.

I feel sad that Sean isn’t here anymore on this plane, but memories of our conversations in the days leading up to his sudden death give me solace. We spoke of death and where you go. Sean had said to me that if he died he would be happy with the life he lived up until that moment as he believed he had had a myriad of rich experiences, travelled the world, and surfed waves that the majority of the population wouldn’t even dream of. He believed that our energy most certainly gets transmitted into something new when we go, though he hadn’t quite figured out what, but he felt at peace with that.

I will never be the same again that’s for sure, but I hope that I will soak up each moment a little more than I might have done before the reality of our transience was so abruptly cemented for me. Sometimes I feel unsure if I should talk about him, but I think he is part of me now, and it’s important to keep talking about people who have gone. I guess Sean was right, his energy truly did transmute into something new when he crossed over.” - Bianca, Gisborne (Interview: Nicole Barratt)

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