The West

Beautiful letters of never-ending love
Beautiful letters of never-ending love

There are two suitcases in June Corteen's roof, tucked up against the eaves, gathering dust in the dark space between the tiles and the ceiling of her Safety Bay home.

They belonged to her twin daughters, Jane and Jenny.

Inside are the clothes her girls wore during their last days alive.

The smell of their perfume still lingers on the bright fabrics of their holiday outfits. Those now faint fragrances, and the feel of their clothes, are almost enough to bring them back for a time.

Memories of the Lost - read the full letter

Bali Remembered video: The June Corteen interview

Bali Remembered - Special full coverage tribute

Jane and Jenny Corteen were among 202 people killed, 88 of them Australians, when the bombs went off in Bali on October 12, 2002.

Almost 10 years after her daughters were killed, Ms Corteen said yesterday that not a day went by when she did not remember her girls.

The twins, aged 39, had travelled to Bali for their first holiday together in years. Jenny had been busy setting up and running a florist shop in Fremantle. Jane had two young children, Jack, five, and Katie, three.

Ms Corteen said she had decided to enter her roses into an agricultural show in Gosnells. She had set the alarm to get up early and spray them on a Sunday morning.

When the radio blared at 5.30am on October 13, just hours after the attacks, news of the bombs filled her with terror.

"That was the first I'd heard of the bombs going off," she said. "I knew right from the word go that Jane and Jenny had passed away."

The girl's father Dennis was in Bali by the Wednesday. He didn't find the girls. But he brought home their suitcases from the White Rose Hotel where they had been staying.

A letter Ms Corteen later received from a lady who had met her daughters at the hotel helped her stay afloat in an ocean of grief.

"She said they were having a wonderful time, very peaceful, very calm," she said. "They were happy and they were content on the last day that they were alive, which to me made a big difference.

"I opened the suitcases and there were some clothes that had been worn. They still had the perfume of the girls on them.

"The smell of them, it was Jane and Jenny all over . . . it was like they were standing there."

Some items, like the dress Jane had picked up at an op-shop and absolutely adored, Ms Corteen washed.

"I remember after I had washed it just hugging it on the line thinking, how can this have happened to me."

As the nation prepares to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the bombings, Ms Corteen urged Australians not to forget.

With a head full of memories, a heart full of sadness, and two suitcases full of clothes, Ms Corteen never will.

The West Australian

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