British national, David Linsey whose siblings died in Sri Lanka will return to the hotel where his siblings Daniel and Amelie were killed in the Easter Sunday terror attacks, foreign media reported.
The suitcases containing their holiday clothes still sit unopened by the front door, the clutter of family life collecting on top.
It is more than two months now since Daniel Linsey, 19, and his sister Amelie, 15, were killed in Sri Lanka’s Easter Sunday Massacre terror attack.
Their shellshocked father, Matthew, who escaped without injury, then had to lug the bags home alone. Yet the grieving family cannot begin to unpack them.
More painful still, are two more sets of clothes which only recently arrived. The clothes the teenagers – two of eight British victims amid 258 slaughtered in a string of suicide bombings – died in.
“My father wanted them, but it was probably the hardest thing,” reveals elder brother David, eyes wide with emotion
“My brother’s clothes are completely ripped up, but on my sister’s blue dress there are just two little punctures around here…” he says, gesturing to his heart.
This family’s shock and sorrow is still tangibly raw yet, amid it, David, 21, has made an unexpected decision.
The oldest sibling, who opted to revise for university exams rather than join his sister and brother on holiday in Sri Lanka with their dad, wants to fly there and visit the hotel where they died.
“My parents said initially they would rather I didn’t go,” he admits. “But they have come to terms with it now, and how important it is for me.
“I don’t know how I will react, but I think I should pay my respects at the place. Otherwise I will have a mental wall around it.
“I think going there will help to release some of the stress I have built up.
“I’m hoping the whole trip will be a cathartic experience.”
It was unusual for this close family not to holiday together but, as well as David needing to work, little brother Ethan, 12, and mum Angelina, decided they also preferred to stay at home.
On April 21, Amelie, Daniel and Matthew were enjoying their final ¬breakfast at the Shangri-La hotel in Colombo before flying home, when the Islamic State terrorists struck.
Luxury hotels and churches were the targets of eight bombings.
Businessman Matthew, 61, survived because he was further from the blast.
David may look young, but he speaks with a maturity beyond his years.
Just two days after his siblings’ deaths he launched a charity in their names. The Amelie and Daniel Linsey Foundation raises funds for Sri Lankan victims, and the hospital that treated his siblings.
The medical facility struggled after the attack and, incredibly, he has already organised for a group of trauma experts from the US to assess its needs.
He has raised £170,000 so far. David says: “My dad said it was chaos in the hospital. They didn’t have capacity.”
His trip is also aimed at meeting victims’ families. He says: “They are the only people who can relate.
“They are definitely suffering. I want to make sure they have a place to live, access to counselling and education.”
The Linseys’ Central London home feels heavy with silence, where once the shrieks of four siblings filled rooms.
On the kitchen table sit teetering stacks of family photos running into hundreds, which Matthew, an investor in emerging markets, is religiously arranging in albums. It is his way of helping to process his grief.
“My dad spends all day doing this. I have never seen many of them before,” David admits, explaining how for all his apparent composure, he is “up and down” and struggles to sleep alone.
Many of the photos show the close family grinning in far-flung locations.
Both Amelie and Daniel were “adventurous, open people” and ¬“fearless”, David says.
He would have liked to have gone to Sri Lanka with them, but his course at Oxford studying economics and management, took priority.
“I was a bit envious,” he admits, recalling the pair leaping around the now-empty lounge packing to music videos – his final memory of them.
David struggles with the fact he wasn’t with them when they died.
He explains: “I tried to look out for them as a brother, and that’s very hard, feeling you weren’t there.
“But it’s not like they were doing anything dangerous, they were just having breakfast.”
Matthew has described how the children were hit by a wave of pressure from the first blast, then ran towards the exit –directly into a second blast.
They were knocked unconscious and taken to hospital where they died. “We just know they didn’t suffer, that’s the most important thing. My dad told me they didn’t scream, everyone was silent,” says David.
The family in England were awakened by Matthew’s anguished call.
“I heard a commotion and screaming,” recalls David, who sleeps in the basement. “My dad was on the phone and my 12-year-old brother told me what had happened because my mum couldn’t really speak.”
Matthew later video-called from the chaotic hospital, shrapnel marks across his face, voice almost gone. He kept saying he was sorry.
Afterwards, he could do ¬nothing more than fly home with his children’s suitcases on Easter Monday. David went to collect him from the airport.
He recalls: “He was still wearing the same clothes because they were the last clothes he had given them a hug in. I could smell the blast.
“He was only running on adrenalin. Thank god we got him back, we are together, what is left of us.”
His siblings have now been buried in the US, close to his grandmother’s home – Matthew is American – because it’s a place they loved to visit.
The charity was a way of channelling David’s grief, he says, combined with the instant, selfless realisation his parents needed that channel, too.
He’s taken a year off university to pursue the charity, explaining: “My parents lived entirely for their children, and so when this happened it took away a huge part of their life.
“There has to be something that brings good out of this evil, that will give them something to live for – this is what I’m trying to do.”
It is also so that Daniel and Amelie are not only remembered for being victims of a terror attack.
He says: “I think about what their values were and how I can emulate them in my work, because through that, they live on.”
Sunil Friday, 05 July 2019 02:45 PM
How very sad. Our hearts go out to him. What senseless acts these attacks were.
Irfan Razeen Friday, 05 July 2019 03:27 PM
We are so sorry for your lost, I am still trying to recover from the tragic incident, i was not even there when it happen but i can't imagine what you all going through, we pray to God to give you all strength, If there is anything we could do to help please feel, Sri Lankan Leaving in Bracknell UK
Ahmed Friday, 05 July 2019 04:28 PM
What agony these senseless, barbaric terrorists have caused for innocent families. All terrorists around the world should rot in hell. My heart goes out to your family
Marie Friday, 05 July 2019 06:43 PM
To think of the other victims amidst your own agony you are indeed a great person. Amelie and Daniel must be rejoicing above. God Bless you and your family. Marie S.L.
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