My former editor, colleague and worthy adversary, Stella Young died this weekend, at the age of 32. I feel like I have no choice but to write about this, in an effort to process my grief. I never met Stella face to face, but in one of our last emails when she commissioned me for a piece, she told me:
'I write to you because even when you don't try, you drive up traffic. I hate what you say, but no one says it quite like you. You're the Andrew Bolt of disability. We need people like you. You are not afraid to say what you feel. Ramp Up needs to be shaken up again.'
Even though her death is a tragedy, I grieve not for my personal loss, the last time we spoke was February, but for the hole that her loss leaves for people with disabilities in this country. Even though I often bemoaned it, Stella was the nation's go to voice on all things disability. I didn't agree with her TED talk, or 90% of her writing.
But at least people saw it.
I respected Stella, and she, I like to think, respected me.
I wonder where we go from here? Who will fill the massive hole that the loss of Stella leaves us?
There is no one. No one at all.
That is why I cry.
As Stella often told the world, she was not an inspiration. She did even speak for me. But she gave a voice to the majority of those with disabilities, many of whom are voiceless.
And now that voice is silenced.