Today, I opened an attachment from a friend with the email title ‘Do you know her!?’. Nonchalantly, I clicked and my breath instantly left my body. Australian woman Ella Knights dies in scooter crash in Bali. Ella, sweet, lovely, carefree Ella.
A girl who was always there, a friend but not a best friend growing up. A girl I did six years of schooling with, a girl I once acted with in drama class, a girl I shared drunken dances and alco-pops with at awkward teenage parties. A girl I hugged goodbye at Year 12 graduation and who I watched from afar as she grew into an amazing woman, full of life and love. I liked her travel pics on social media, chatted to her when we crossed paths in our home town, and peered into her life from afar as she fell in and out of love and moved jobs and cities. A girl I knew, a girl I grew up with, and a woman not to dissimilar from me.
Ella was travelling the world when she died, she was passionate about health and fitness, and was strong and independent. Ella was just like me. Just like thousands of 26 year olds like me. And now she is gone. Killed riding a motorbike in Bali, which unfortunately isn’t an uncommon headline. I feel numb, I feel overwhelmingly sad for her circle, and I feel so, so far from home right now reading this news from my London office.
If I was still working in Sydney media, this would have been a story leading my bulletins. I would have had to write about dear Ella as if she was any other death we were reporting in the news that day. I have had to do it before, when my good friend Glenn Wheeler was hit by a van and rushed in critical condition to hospital while I was on shift in the newsroom. It still haunts me to this day that I wrote about Glenn for hours as a ‘Man in his 50s’ with no idea I was writing about my friend. My colleague. This time I am watching the headlines morph and change from afar, as journalists do their digging and scour her online profiles for comments to re-print for viewers and to read out on air. Beautiful Ella, you don’t deserve to be a headline for a reason like this.
I cannot imagine the inner scream your parents and inner circle are experiencing right now. Their hearts torn into a million pieces, their minds numb with pain, shock and disbelief. I am feeling their pain thousands of kilometres away in London. I am crying for beautiful Ella and the life she no longer gets to live. She was living life to the full, she was travelling, learning, exploring. She was happy, you could tell. She didn’t deserve to have her life cut short. She was one of the good ones.
RIP Ella. My heart is with you today.