In my dreams, Suzy comes walking in: In bed with Diana Lamplugh (CORRECTED)

Susan de Muth
Sunday 23 October 2011 03:43


DIANA LAMPLUGH is director of the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, named after her daughter, who was abducted in 1986. She is to receive an honorary doctorate from the Sheffield Hallam University on Friday for her work in promoting personal safety. She and her husband, Paul, live in London.

WHEN Suzy first disappeared, Paul and I asked a psychiatrist friend: 'How are we going to survive this?' He told us just to sleep and, surprisingly, we managed to. The shock itself was like a switch-off mechanism. Then we did a lot of physical work so we would be really tired every evening. I didn't want any medication. It would have clouded me and I needed to be on the ball.

There were no dreams at that time. It was so bad, you had nothing. You couldn't look. You couldn't see. Later we both started having dreams where Suzy would appear, and we still get those. It's terrible - she'll just walk into a room or something - and when you wake up you have an awful sore heart because she's not here, and for a moment you thought the whole thing hadn't happened.

It's very important to me to sleep at home. Even if I've been giving a talk a long way away, I always get home, however late. Paul will have made some supper, and we eat that together and talk about the day, and laugh at the dogs. It's nice to go to bed then. I like coming back and sleeping together.

We're fortunate that we can talk to each other, work things through. For a while I wrote poetry before going to bed - trying to make sense of it all. Why did it happen, and why to her? It's difficult, but it gets things out of your soul and down on paper. I know other parents of murdered children who have done the same, and it's quite interesting because our poems are very often alike.

We officially declared Suzy dead in July 1993, and we've got to the stage as a family now where we can concentrate solely on remembering her as a person, which we do with great joy. I don't feel the need to write poems these days; I work on my tapestry every night, which settles me for sleep.

I never have any trouble sleeping. I haven't had insomnia since I was a teenager. That was hormonal - you know, once a month I'd have no friends and everything was awful. I think the menopause is marvellous; it frees you from all that. I would have coped far worse these past seven years if I hadn't got the menopause over and done with.

Amazingly, another of our daughters, Lizzie, was nearly abducted one night last year. People often ask me if I'm not permanently frightened for myself and the family, but I refuse to feel intimidated, and I'm often out alone after dark. Lizzie was a survivor, not a victim; she did all the right things, and the man is now locked up. That's what our work is about: inspiring people - men and women - not to be afraid, but to get out there, deal with life and enjoy it. That's Suzy's legacy.

Now don't get jealous, but Paul brings me breakfast in bed every morning at 7. This started years ago when everyone decided that what was wrong with breakfast was me. We have long discussions in bed in the morning - sometimes for a couple of hours. I tend to wake up with new ideas and answers to questions I've put on the back burner the night before. When Suzy first disappeared I'd wake up every day with another thought as to how we could find her . . .

We often talk about Suzy then, imagining how she'd react to this or that. I sometimes picture her sitting on a cloud doing macrame with my late mother-in-law, the two of them watching us and making comments - it's quite unnerving. Oh, we have to approach the whole thing with a sense of humour - if we didn't, we'd go barmy.

(Photograph omitted)

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