Name: Paul Rushworth
LAST SEEN: Sydney, New South Wales
Missing since: September 2013
Then aged: 46
FUN FACT: Scholarship award-winning Master of Fine Art
Your ice-cream smile at Coogee Beach lulls me to sleep in my loneliness. Again and again, I watch you emerge from the shimmering sea, wiping the water from your face, refreshed and exhilarated. A memory on repeat. Swimming in the sea beside each other, the togetherness my favourite tonic, you are my friend. My man. My love. I haunt our life now, alone, wondering where you are. Who you’re with. Whether you’re well. And happy.
‘I talk to Paul every night before going to bed; say goodnight, say a prayer for him.’
Thirty years of memories in a city full of echoes, each one a hook in my battered heart. You’re everywhere. Waiting on the steps to see me. Every station. Every corner. At the myriad meeting points we ever met at. I don’t know where the world is keeping you. The sounds I hear at night are harbingers of your return. Each waking night is a vigil for your safety.
A million times I’ve imagined you walking through that door in your jeans and maroon shirt, closing it with a sigh, your pilgrimage over. You’re alive. You’ve come back. And you’re glowing.
I covered every inch of the city, inside and around, and ventured further still to find you. Night after night, I drove, searching like I’d never searched. Hoping like I’d never hoped. Wishing like I’d never wished. It was a valley, not an abyss. And though the darkest valley I’ve ever known, surely it would eventually end – that’s what I told myself. You’d come back. Even if it was just to let me know you’re all right.
They were the first weeks. Months. Years.
And still I wait…
After the story, Loren and Peter discuss the challenges and heartbreak of searching for a loved one that was struggling when they disappeared.
What’s Missing was adapted from MPAN’s book, Too Short Stories. Peter and Paul’s story was written by Jeremy Massey. Get a copy of the book at Too Short Stories.
Hosted by Loren O’Keeffe
Missing Person: Paul Rushworth
Additional writing for this episode by Erin Munro
Research by Catherine Seccombe
‘Wildflowers’ by Jess Ribeiro
Audio production and music composition by Mike Migas
Graphic design by Maricarmen Rubí Baeza
Video and web design by Paulina Szymanska
Missing Persons Advocacy Network (MPAN)