Danica Weeks is raising her two young sons without her husband, who was aboard MH370
Paul Weeks was traveling to Mongolia to work in the mining industry
The MH370 passenger gave his wife his wedding ring before he left, a keepsake for his sons
In the Swan Valley on the outskirts of Perth, a petite, blonde woman opens the front door.
Dressed in skinny jeans, a gray t-shirt and black heels, Danica Weeks welcomes us inside her family home. Her warm smile and sparkly green eyes briefly disguise the deep-seated grief and sadness that constantly envelops her.
The mother of two young boys can’t move on. Her life is stuck on March 7, 2014, when she kissed her husband Paul goodbye at Perth International Airport. He was heading to Mongolia, where he would begin work as a mechanical engineer at one of the mines.
It was a big job with enormous opportunity that could set up his young family. Unable to wear jewelry at the work site, he gave Danica his wedding band saying that if anything was to happen to him, she should give the ring to the first son that marries.
Wearing it on a simple chain around her neck, she touches it as she speaks.
“I’m so glad that happened, that I’ve got this for the boys,” she said. “And for me, because I may never get anything. It may be the only piece of him that I have that is so close to us.”
Paul Weeks, 39, left Perth that day and flew to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, for his flight on to Beijing. Just after midnight on March 8, he boarded Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.
Weeks had no idea about the plane’s disappearance until she got a call from a news reporter asking if her husband was on board the missing Boeing 777.
“My life stopped that day, so that’s what I remember. I’m purely now just existing. People say you’re coping. I wouldn’t call it coping; it’s existing.”
Telling the kids
She has yet to tell her eldest son Lincoln, 4, that his father whom he adored will never come home. She can’t make sense of it herself. How is a 4-year-old going to understand? She tells him Daddy is working in Mongolia – the truth is just too painful.
“You create your own scenarios in your head and you can’t bear to think that someone – your best friend, amazing husband, the father of my children – went through any of that. I don’t want that for him. It’s the not knowing that really destroys you.”
The past 12 months have been a roller coaster of emotions for Weeks.
Initially she thought the plane had crashed but when no debris appeared she clung on to hope. When the “pings” were discovered and authorities believed they would find the black boxes within days, she was told to prepare for her husband’s memorial service.
When that turned out to be wrong, her heart sank once again. Now there are days when her grief paralyzes her and she can’t get out of bed. There are other days when she affords herself the small luxury of daydreaming and imagines him walking in the front door.
“When I’m alone and I think ‘what if he comes back?’ I see our wedding pictures and I think if he was to come back it would be amazing (for me) and for the kids. Jack has grown so much – he was 11 months when Paul left. We’re coming up to his second birthday.
“We’ve gone through all the 12 months of special days and I look at Jack and he’s the spitting image of Paul. He would be blown away by how much he’s grown. He should be here seeing all of that and the reason we don’t know why is so painful.
“I can’t even explain the pain – it’s unbearable.”
How they met
We discuss the current search underway in the southern Indian Ocean more than 1,000 miles from where we are sitting in her home. Weeks looks deflated – she’s physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted.
“They’re very optimistic about this latest search. I can’t share in that anymore. I’ve thrown my emotions and hopes into so many other searches. It’s too much for me now. I won’t come back. Half of my soul was on that plane with Paul and now nearly a year on … I don’t think I will ever find myself again.”
Week’s eyes well up with tears as she talks about her husband whom she met at the Munich Beer Festival 15 years ago. Since then, they had been inseparable – until now.
Her greatest fear is if nothing is found in the 60,000 square kilometer priority search area – due to be completed by May - the authorities will call off the search operation. No country has said this but it doesn’t stop Danica from thinking it.
“You know, that’s so unfair – where does that leave us? We can’t move on beyond MH370. They may be able to but they don’t come home to an empty house and 2 young children that should have their father here. They (the Malaysians) are legally and morally committed to bringing them all home and that’s what they should do”.
When asked what she’ll be doing on March 8 – one year since MH370 disappeared and since she last saw Paul – tears stream down her face.
“Probably crying a lot. I never thought we’d reach a year and not know. You go through every anniversary, Lincoln’s birthday, Paul’s birthday, Christmas. You think we’ll know by then and it’s a year on.”
While her loss and pain is palpable, there is an incredible strength within Weeks. She has to remain strong, she says, for the sake of her boys.
“I will keep searching. I will never stop searching for him. He gave everything to us. He is amazing. I know that if the shoe was on the other foot, he wouldn’t stop looking for me.
“And I will never stop looking for him either.”