16 May 2020

Safe Travels My Friend

Mostly, I'm okay. But occasionally I have these days where I am so bereft, so lonely and sad, so physically heart broken that it's almost impossible to pull myself out of it. Today is one of those days. Coming home to no Sean is the worst, and it's magnified on the weekends, especially after a hectic day at work. Sean was my actual best friend, and sometimes I miss him so much I can't breathe (not COVID-19, promise). He was my favourite person; one of the few people in this world that understood me, and loved me.

One of the things I've found that calms my mind on these nights is reading the eulogy I wrote for Sean. It might seem strange, that this would calm me, but it does. The eulogy reminds me of our life together, and how wonderful it was; it makes me smile. It reminds me that I had the strength to stand up and read this at his service, that I got to say goodbye the way I wanted to. So, here it is...


We all know Sean loved a list, so here we go.

This is a list of Things Sean Taught Me. It is by no means a comprehensive list or else we'd never get to the pub... 

1. One of the biggest things Sean taught me was to be smarter, wittier, sharper. I'm not saying I'm smart, witty, or sharp - that's for you all to decide - but I am saying Sean pushed me to use my brain, more so than anyone else. He had expectations of me, and those expectations included being smart. He loved to argue, and would often play devil's advocate just to push the discussion a little further. With Sean, I could never just have an opinion, I had to be able to back my opinion up, explain it, argue it, and maybe even *sometimes* convince him of it. 

2. When making a decision, or dealing with a tricky situation, Sean taught me to think through all the possibilities and consequences but also to keep things simple, to not forget the big picture. When it came to McDonald’s, he was a genius at analysing the business and the individuals in the business. He’d think through all sorts of scenarios and possible impacts. But in the end, he always reminded me (and anyone else that would listen) - it’s just about selling tasty cheeseburgers. 

3. How to keep a sink dry. It’s a Sydney thing, apparently… 

4. To pay attention to the lyrics. If you liked a song, saying it’s just got a nice vibe was never a good enough answer for Sean. 

5. To take very seriously the things that matter, and realise that everything else is nonsense. The list of things that mattered to Sean was pretty short - dachshunds, his sons, his family, reason and logic, education, respect for the past, quarter pounders. These things he did not mess with. But - everything else was free game in this ludicrous, nonsensical thing we call life. 

6A. How to travel, and more specifically how to drink coffee and eat meals in Italy. There are rules, and Sean taught me them. 

6B. Related - how to say ‘two large beers please’ in basically every European language. Dave - I think you maybe learnt this lesson too. 

7. How to drive a manual car on the Italian motorway. 

Just joking, that was a lesson I never learnt. We tried it once, for about ten minutes. It ended in three near fatal accidents, stalling at a three way intersection with a large truck bearing down on us, and me sobbing behind the wheel. Sean drove in Italy from then on. 

8. That good things are better than not good things - a good song is better than a not good song, a good painting is better than a not good painting. This was something I always intuitively knew, but he gave me words for it. In recent years there was a lot of discussion about this long standing belief. 

Sean was trying to rank Bohemian Rhapsody against a composition by Bach, and Joe suggested that the theory didn’t hold up when comparing across such different genres. But Sean held firm, so throughout his day we’d randomly ask him to compare and rank different things: Hey Sean - what’s better, a kiwi fruit or a llama? (A llama, of course...)

9. Sean taught me that steak is a good thing. I'd been a vegetarian for about eight years when I met Sean. After our first dinner out I was no longer a vegetarian. I remember the waiter saying - jeepers, if you’re willing to eat a medium rare steak for him this has got to be something really special. And it was. 

10. How to get a crowd talking. Every family dinner or social function, Sean came prepared. Not with small talk, but with conversation prompters. He had the attention span of a gnat and he needed us all to amuse him. Sometimes it was a quiz, sometimes it was a pack of cards, sometimes it was a controversial question - we spent a whole December once discussing seatbelt laws at every, single xmas function we attended...

Sean always had something up his sleeve to engage those around him and get people talking. Even if sometimes the talking was DO WE REALLY HAVE TO DO THE DAMN QUIZ? Can’t we just talk, like normal people? No, Jen, no we can’t… 

11. How to listen when someone speaks. Sean taught me to stop thinking about my reply when someone is talking, and instead to pay attention to what they’re saying, to be curious. Sean taught me to focus on their story, not on what I have to say about it. 

12. That it’s okay to be a little bit odd, sometimes. We were both a little bit odd, sometimes. It’s part of the reason we worked so well. 

13. To be proud of my strengths and honest about my weaknesses. 

14. And this is a big one, how to be a parent. One of the things I am truly grateful for is that being with Sean gave me an instant family with Sam and Joe, and to some extent Pepe as well, not to mention the whole extended Newton clan, who welcomed me into their fold (after a few initial reservations, but that’s a story for another time), plus the amazing Macca’s family. 

I remember first meeting the boys when they were 6 and 8. We went to Taronga Zoo together. I was completely utterly terrified. But Sean was so happy - he loved me, and he loved his boys, and he couldn’t see any reason why we wouldn’t all just love each other. Sean always made an effort to include me, especially in those early days - drawing me into the conversation, making sure I felt a part of the family. 

Thank you also to Pepe, for letting me be a part of raising Sam and Joe, for trusting Sean and therefore trusting me. A lot of people don’t get it, but we do - everything was and is about the boys. 

15. And lastly, Sean taught me that odd numbers were better than even numbers. Hence this last point so I finish on 15, not 14. 

I am so grateful that I found Sean, that he found me. I am so grateful that I got to experience his humour, intelligence, and love for life; that he wanted to take the time to teach me these things. 

I know every single one of you will have your own lists of things Sean taught you, or at least had a damn good crack at trying to teach you. And he never did it with arrogance, it was always with joy, openness, and humility. 

Sean, I love you. 
I miss you, terribly. 

But  - I also know you will live on through all the things we’ve learnt, from you. 

Safe travels my friend. 


  1. Sean always believed in me and always helped me to be a better version. He will always remain in my heart and thought 💖. I knew you were a amazing A+ human and now I know how strong you are .
    You and Sean are my role model and I wish I could be only 5 % good, strong and smart as you are. I love you Emily ❤️ And I miss you Sean 😭💖💖

  2. I finished reading this with 2% battery on my phone and plugged it into power so that I could write a comment. I have a lump in my throat as I type. Sean sounds like an amazing human being, and I love that he loved a list (I'm a list LOVER too). I thought about how I could encourage you as well as take something away with me to continue Sean's legacy so I will take n number 11 as something to work on. Thanks for sharing, sending lots of love x

  3. You are one of the strongest person i have ever know Emily.
    Going through your blog it makes me sad, amaze and happy.
    You have experienced alot of thing with Sean most of them are intresting and funny at the same time that he loves to do argue (knowly), when you like songs there should be valid and genuine reasons why do you like that song...
    i could possibly imagine how you feeling I'm truly sorry for your loss
    After all these you stay calm, strong and focused
    Seeing you at work with same energy makes me really happy. You are totally different person there. With Same can do attitude and encourage us to be best
    I miss Sean,
    Take care yourself and family

  4. Emily, I know this journey, and I have found great strength and calm in keeping close and laughing again at so many wonderful recalled memories. The grief journey is the price of love shared, and you are grieving in the healthiest manner. No one is lost who is not forgot. Hugs a Million


Your comments make me happier than you could possibly imagine. Really! Thank you.