The mother of a man who went missing five years ago has told of how her life has been left on pause since the day her son disappeared, afraid to change her phone number or move house in case he tries to contact his family.
Anthony Fahey was 29 when he boarded a bus from Canberra to Sydney on July 3, 2013, and hasn’t been heard from since.
His mother Eileen Fahey thinks about her son every day, constantly wondering where he is and if he is okay.
“I live in fear of losing my mobile number, because I know Anthony knows that number,” Mrs Fahey told Yahoo7.
“We’re looking at moving, but how do we move away from a house where we have 15 years of memories of him?
“My fear is, if I leave that house will I lose that memory? I’ll not be able to hear his voice anymore.”
Tony, who would now be 34, boarded the bus to ‘get away’ for a few days, but his bank account, credit cards, Medicare card and social media accounts have not been used since he left.
“When Anthony first went missing, because he was 29 – a grown man, for the first two or three days I didn’t really think anything of it,” Mrs Fahey said.
“By the third day I thought, ‘this is unusual’.”
Mrs Fahey, her husband and Tony’s six siblings travelled to Sydney to look for him; searching the city’s streets and homeless shelters to no avail.
“It’s unfathomable, you don’t ever expect to be in this situation,” she said.
‘I was so sure he would walk down the driveway’
Tony, who worked in construction, was the third youngest of his siblings and loved Christmas time with his family. In 2013, the year he went missing, his mother was certain he would return home on Christmas Eve.
“We’ve missed him, a lot has happened in our family in five years. His grandfather has passed away. His brother has gotten married and there are two nephews he hasn’t met. And Christmases – Christmas is very special in our house.
“I was just so sure that he would walk down the driveway on Christmas Eve. I could’ve staked my life on it and I was just so shocked when he didn’t.”
Mrs Fahey said she tries to maintain her positivity and faith – made easier by her “wonderful, supportive” husband – but found herself and her family stuck in a constant cycle of grief.
“The thing that’s most difficult is that we just don’t know. I don’t know if he’s alive or if he’s dead, I don’t know if he needs us or if he’s in trouble, I just don’t know.
“There’s just a cycle of grief that you go through. There’s no resolution and it just starts all over again. It just doesn’t get any better.”
The family have been shattered by several false sightings of Tony, who stands at six-feet-tall, with brown hair, brown eyes and a beard.
But Mrs Fahey is grateful people are looking for her boy.
“I just take my hat off to those people, I’m just so thankful. It lets me know that I’m not the only one looking.”
‘I’ll never give up’
This week – August 5 to 11 – is National Missing Persons Week. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the event.
For Mrs Fahey, the week is one of the hardest times of the year, along with her son’s birthday and the anniversary of his disappearance.
But she willingly takes every opportunity to speak about her son, in the hopes that his story will reach the right person.
“From a mother of a long-term missing person, I would dearly love the community to be my eyes and ears, to help me find him. I just need to find out if he’s okay. I need to find out what’s happened.
“I’m not going to tell him off, I’m going to welcome him with open arms. Just come home, just call.”
“I’ll never give up until I know.”
To mark the event’s 30th year, the AFP is profiling 30 long-term missing people from around the country on their Missing Persons Facebook page.
AFP Deputy Commissioner Neil Gaughan said he hoped this year’s campaign would give an insight into the critical role the public can play.
“It’s important that we raise awareness of this issue, including the reasons why people go missing, the social and financial impacts, and how the community can get involved.
“This might mean taking an interest and sharing our social media posts. After all, the community is our eyes and ears in these cases, helping police find the many thousands of people who go missing each year.”
If you have information that may assist police to locate Anthony please call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.