SINCE the tragic death of her 18-month-old son Jack, there have been times Laura Mackay felt she was going to fall in a heap.
When this happens she walks outside her Mallabula home and looks up into the night sky, focusing on the brightest star she can see and waits for that warm feeling to wash over her.
"I get this feeling just below my ribs of just love and it just goes right through me just like the hugs that Jack used to give me," Mrs Mackay said yesterday.
Sitting outside her single-storey home in the quiet town on the Tilligerry Peninsula, Mrs Mackay pauses for a moment as she remembers her son's smiling face.
"He was perfect from day one," Mrs Mackay says.
"We brought him home from the hospital and after two or three days I said to my husband I don't even remember life without him.
"All our nieces and nephews just loved him, he fitted. He crawled later than our older daughter, Ella, and walked later than her but now I look back on it and all that stuff doesn't matter, I think he was busy teaching us how to love.
"You would walk into a room with Jack and he would go 'Hey' and you would be so important to him.
"He would give you a kiss and a cuddle and on my day off I would sit outside with him and he would just wander around, chewing on the garden hose or trying to eat dirt and then he would just look up at me and he'd come over and give me a cuddle.
"He was beautiful, he was amazing, he filled our lives with so much love.
"He was just our gift, from day one we said he was our gift from god."
Mrs Mackay exhales as she prepares to tell the story of how her young family was changed forever.
It was about 2.30pm on August 22 that Mrs Mackay got the phone call every parent dreads.
On the other end was her husband, Clinton Mackay, and he was screaming.
"He said 'You have to get home, you have to get home now'," Mrs Mackay said.
"He told me Jack wasn't breathing and he said he had choked on a blind cord."
Moments earlier, Mr Mackay had found Jack lying in his cot beside a window, a loose blind cord entangled around his neck.
"It felt like eternity before I got to the house, work wouldn't let me leave because I was screaming," Mrs Mackay.
"I wasn't strong enough to have a child pass away, it was my biggest fear, I guess.
"Just as we were coming up Lemon Tree Passage Road the Westpac rescue helicopter was landing.
"Clinton had given Jack CPR and he's since told me that Jack was blue when he found him but when I got out of the car Jack wasn't blue.
"I know that he did breathe for Jack, that he gave it all he had and tried so hard."
Mrs Mackay went by helicopter to the John Hunter Hospital where paramedics and emergency staff desperately worked to keep Jack alive.
She said there were nurses crying when her young son was pronounced dead.
"They gave us time in a room with him, unfortunately because of the fact that sometimes these deaths aren't an accident, sometimes it is because of the parents, my husband and I were only allowed to hold him for a short time and then the police arrived and there had to be minimal contact, we could stroke his hair and lightly stroke his face," she said.
Mrs Mackay laments the simple opportunities lost to her young son but insists the family has no regrets about his short life.
"The thought that he's never going to go to school, the thought that he's never going to be so naughty that I'm going to be like you're grounded and give him a smack and then kiss him better, you know all of the stuff that we've got to enjoy with Ella.
"We fitted a lot in to his 18 months and we don't have any regrets because we've always stopped if our kids wanted a hug and given them a cuddle and a kiss."
Mrs Mackay said when her husband first told her Jack had choked on a blind cord she thought he had swallowed it and admits she had never really thought about the danger a loose cord could pose to a young child.
Now she wants mandatory laws that all houses fitted with unsecured blind cords have them fitted to the wall, or hooked up high to avoid a similar tragedy.
"We are so advanced with technology in everything it doesn't make sense that we need to have these dangerous cords," she said.
"If you can't afford to install new blinds then hook them up, put in a nail and have them so it's physically impossible for your child to get hold of them.
"It might not be pretty, it might take your house away from being a show home but it's important.
"Put a sheet up until you can afford to change it because no amount of money is going to bring my little boy back so I would live with sun pouring in every day if that's what it took.
"For the sake of a few dollars we could still have him here.
"It's just so unnecessary, Australia has one or two deaths per year this way but it is one or two too many."
Mrs Mackay has lived on the peninsula since 1989 and attended Tanilba Bay Public School and Raymond Terrace High.
She knew the community was incredibly tight-knit but was overwhelmed by the response to her son's death.
"I knew Mallabula was like this because unfortunately, even being out this far, we are not shadowed from tragedy," she said.
"We've seen it in the past with other families and we've always chipped in but being on the receiving end is just overwhelming.
"A friend opened a bank account for us and there has been a significant amount of money donated from the women's refuge and cheques from local community organisations, people have been amazing.
"People showed up with trays of spaghetti bolognaise or lasagne, all this food that we could reheat.
"But it's not just the community out here, I've had contact with a mother in America who had twins, a little boy and a little girl, and they lost the little girl the same way we lost Jack.
"People have sent us gifts, someone mowed our lawn, the neighbours cleaned our house, all these things that can help. I don't think I would be sitting here speaking about it without the support from the community.
"At first I was unsure about putting myself out there in the public spotlight to draw attention to the issue but it does help. I've had mums contact me on Facebook, one of them from Queensland who said she woke up to her 18-month-old playing with the blinds and she, like any mum, thought I'll get him in a minute, logged onto Facebook and read Jack's story and jumped up and grabbed her son and wrote 'Thank you Laura Mackay, your beautiful son Jack saved our son Jake'."
The Mackays are hoping the young boy from Queensland isn't the last child saved by Jack's story.
She had a simple parting message for parents.
"Just cherish each day," she said. "Kiss them and cuddle them whenever you can, other stuff can wait.
"My message is just cherish your kids because they grow up really, really fast and unfortunately sometimes they don't get the chance to grow up."