KEN Wright knew the time would come ... eventually.
As the days became weeks and weeks became months, the long-time Albury football umpire could no longer put off the inevitable.
Almost eight months to the day after his wife, Carolyn, took her life, he mustered up the courage to drive past the place where she died.
Mr Wright had gone to extraordinary lengths to avoid the Melrose Drive overpass at Wodonga.
As a salesman living in Thurgoona, the 60-year-old would extend his daily travel by as much as 45 minutes by driving through the backblocks of Wodonga to get to places like Wangaratta, Benalla, Shepparton and Seymour.
The thought of bringing back more painful memories from the tragic night of August 15, 2018, had simply been too much.
Returning to the Hume Freeway overpass was the hardest thing Mr Wright has ever done.
As he neared the overpass, Mr Wright's grip on the steering wheel tightened as sweat gathered on his forehead.
"I tried not to think about it as I drove," he said.
"It was tough though ... very, very tough.
"In the months after Carolyn's passing, every bridge I went under had been a flashback to what had happened.
"But I could eventually see her just saying: 'For Christ's sake, just go under the bridge'.
"You see people having little crosses and flowers on the side of the road and I just thought I have to do this.
"She would have wanted me to do it.
"I just put my head down and drove."
Mr Wright and Carolyn had been married for 23 years with the pair spending only six days apart before she lost her right arm in a car accident on September 3, 2015.
Carolyn spent a combined 16 days in the Royal Melbourne Hospital and underwent six operations.
It was the day that changed their lives.
Despite Carolyn making a remarkable return to work as a driving instructor less than six weeks after the crash, she was fighting her demons.
"When Carolyn lost her arm she had to redo absolutely everything," he said.
"I often say to people, just for five minutes put your right arm behind your back and try and do your day-to-day life.
"Just for five minutes.
"Carolyn excelled in that area as she learnt to write left-handed again and could do it as well or better than before.
"In the end she could cook meals no problem at all.
"We could see how well she was doing but maybe she couldn't.
"Carolyn was achieving things last year that people looked and said: 'Oh my godfather'.
"She was doing remarkable things."
Mr Wright still struggles to comprehend what led Carolyn to take the course of action she did.
She appeared to be loving work at From L's to P's Driver Training school in Albury with the former judge's assistant having a pass rate of well over 90 per cent.
Lesson numbers were strong.
The day Carolyn died was like any other; for Mr Wright it was the easy familiarity of the morning family rituals with his beloved wife and their son, Ben.
Little did he know how wrong he was.
"We had a lovely routine during the week where we would have fish on Tuesday night, stir fry on Wednesday and fish on Thursday," he said.
"They were dishes she could do quite comfortably when I worked late.
"That morning she asked me where I was working, I said Leeton and kissed her goodbye.
"It was Ben's last pre-exam day.
"I got back home and drove into the garage at about 6.30pm and Carolyn's car wasn't there.
"I didn't think too much of it because she often did 6pm or 6.30pm lessons.
"When I walked in Benjamin yelled out from the computer room that Mum had a lesson and tea was cooked.
"(Again) I didn't think too much more of it.
"I had a couple of wines and cleaned up.
"I texted her about 9pm because I thought it was a bit late but I still didn't think too much of it.
"Then a police car pulled up and I knew straight away ..."
That was the day the family's world "just stopped".
"We were numb," said Mr Wright.
The grieving husband now lives with Ben, who works in the IT department at Trinity Anglican College.
The pair bounce off each other in the tough times like last year's Higher School Certificate.
"Benjamin's been fantastic from the word go," Mr Wright said.
"He did an exam the day before his mother was laid to rest, finished Year 12 and passed.
"He's had a lot to deal with.
"Carolyn would be so proud of him."
Mr Wright now consumes himself with three things - Ben, work and football umpiring - to keep his mind busy.
He is also campaigning to see a barrier erected on the Melrose Drive overpass to help prevent further suicides.
"It's important," he stated simply.
"Unfortunately the Albury fence bridges were put up because of the loss of Stuart and Annette Baker's daughter, Mary.
"They persisted and it became a reality.
"Wodonga is sort of the next one from the picking line so to speak.
"I think it just removes that element of maybe someone thinking it could be a place to end their life."
Mr Wright spoke with Member for Benambra Bill Tilley days after his wife passed away and has been in contact with the Baker family.
"Bill came over a few days after Carolyn's passing, which was nice," he said. "We sat down and spoke for a couple of hours.
"He was very positive in helping me correct the situation."
Mr Wright, who has umpired about 1100 matches and is third on the all-time list, has contacted the AFLNEB about organising a Beyond Blue round in the next couple of months.
Remarkably, he found the strength to umpire the match between Kiewa-Sandy Creek and Wahgunyah only three days after Carolyn's passing.
"I spoke to my doctor Mike Giltrap and asked him if I should umpire and he said: 'Keep running and keep making those bad decisions'," Mr Wright said.
"So I decided to go out and umpire at Kiewa, which nobody knew about, and did the game with Robbie Barber.
"Benjamin came out as well and in the first three or four minutes I thought to myself: 'What the hell am I doing'.
"But I could see Carolyn saying, 'Keep going, keep going', so I did.
"I got off the ground and went into the umpires rooms and asked Robbie to give me a hug.
"He sort of looked at me sideways in a funny way and I whispered in his left ear that I'd lost my wife during the week.
"He nearly squeezed the shit out of me.
"Probably the hardest thing I'm finding is that Carolyn has always been there and now she's not."
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