ROAD SAFETY: Karara farmer opens up after a tragic loss
TO THIS day Carmel Wickham has a large portrait of her late husband Alan hanging in her kitchen.
When she makes a cup of tea, cooks dinner or chats on the phone he is there, as though he never left.
Mr Wickham lived his whole life on his farm at Karara and knew the local roads well.
He ducked out to pick up something for the farm but a short break in concentration saw him pull in front of an oncoming truck.
His death was instant.
It took Mrs Wickham about 18 months to come to terms with Alan's passing and she said the immediate feeling was one of numbness.
"After the funeral you are numb, it's the only way to describe it, you're functional, but numb," she said.
It takes time and a supportive family to get over it. My son and my family are the ones that did everything and got me through."
After a few months the shock evolved into a deep and prolonged sadness.
"It's hard to believe that I would be depressed about anything," Mrs Wickham said.
"I can take most things with a laugh, but you find out a lot about yourself when you lose someone close.
"I'm not brave, I needed to have my family and my son around me and that kept me on my feet.
"You get a walking stick to help you out when you are a bit wobbly and it's the people that prop you up that gets you though grief.
"I thought I was a pretty tough old bird, but I found out I wasn't as tough as I thought I was."
It's a pain Mrs Wickham wants to prevent others from feeling so she is cautioning all drivers to take extra care on the roads during the Christmas break.
"Alan was blinded by the sun and didn't see the truck, it was as simple and silly as that.
"It's a rotten area of the road but Alan knew the road. If he had stopped at the intersection he might have seen the truck."
Through all the pain, Mrs Wickham is saddened by the fact that she never got to say goodbye.
"My first husband had cancer and I watched for five and a half months for him to die,"
"With illness you're there, you're watching it happen, watching them disappear in front of your eyes, but if someone goes out and doesn't come home it's a little different."
As the time passed it became easier to confront the reality of life after loss.
Mrs Wickham has vowed to stay on the family farm and ensure it is managed well.
Her son became a part owner and they have a solid plan for the future.
"Alan's father got this farm in 1911 and he built it up from nothing," Mrs Wickham said.
"Two men put their whole lives into the farm and I'm not going to see it go down the drain."