I, like many, can't stop thinking about this beautiful young woman, 22-year-old Grace Millane, murdered while backpacking here in New Zealand.
I can't stop thinking about the fun she must have been having, exploring, meeting people, having the time of her life - and that is exactly what she should've been doing.
For someone to take that away from her is just something none of us can understand.
We mourn for this stranger because we look at pictures of her, a happy, vibrant, bright young girl and can't possibly imagine what would prompt someone to take her life.
She was supposed to be here in our country, having fun, living the dream, experiencing all this great place has to offer - not being scared, frightened and subjected to what we can only assume was a terrifying end to her life.
There are some people wondering why we as a nation are displaying such an outpouring of grief for Grace. There's even a few "Negative Nancys" on unsurprising forums like Twitter asking why we don't show that to all murder victims. The answer is, there is no right or wrong answer to that. But what I do know is we don't have to justify our grief. And we are all grieving for this beautiful young girl.
I am grieving because I was Grace. I packed my bags as a 20-something woman and went on an adventure overseas by myself. I made the decision to explore the world. I had the time of my life. I stayed at backpackers, I saw some beautiful parts of the world, I partied, I met boys, I missed flights, I stayed places longer than planned, I travelled with other travellers. It was one of the best times in my life and I feel very lucky to have been able to do that.
So I am grieving because I can imagine how much fun, how much living Grace was doing, how free she would've felt. How dare someone deprive her of that, how dare someone put a stop to that.
My dad is grieving. He says he can't stop thinking about how Grace's dad must be feeling. He says he can't begin to imagine what it must feel like to be Grace's Dad. He can't imagine what it must've been like to sit on a plane from the other side of the world, to come to New Zealand because his daughter was missing and since then has been discovered dead. Dad can't imagine what Grace's Dad must be feeling toward the man who has been charged with murdering his daughter. Dad can't fathom it happening to his own daughter.
New Zealand is grieving. We love people coming here and experiencing our beautiful country. We are proud of what people come to see, what they get to experience, how much they rave about this little place in the corner of the world. But we are grieving because a beautiful innocent young woman was in our little place in the corner of the world, and it let her down.
As a grieving nation, we have to hope that it doesn't let her down anymore, and that the pursuit for justice towards her killer is relentless.