Touching tribute to terror attack victim
THE devastated mother of a seven-year-old boy killed in the Barcelona terror attack last year has revealed how her son's love of superheroes has helped her through the past 12 months as she prepares to visit the place where he died.
On August 17, 2017, Junmarie "Jom" Cadman, 43, felt her son Julian's hand ripped from hers as they stepped onto Las Ramblas boulevard and into the path of an Islamic State terrorist tearing through the crowd in a large van.
Julian became the face of that attack when his badly injured mother pleaded with rescuers to find her young boy "dressed in a white shirt" after they became separated in the chaos of the terrified crowd.
"He was my whole world, my whole life," the devastated mother said as she prepared to make the heartbreaking trip back to the popular shopping district with Julian's father, Andrew.
The couple's love for their son is reflected in their home in Sydney's west, where the seven-year-old's bedroom is exactly how he left it, lined with superhero books and figurines.
Mrs Cadman has revealed how her son's love for superheroes has helped her heal, especially after he helped unite so many people from all over the world in the hours after the devastating attack.
"He brought heartbreak, unity and love to the whole world but at home he was a different kind of superhero. For us, his kind, caring heart, and the way he was always grateful for everything he had made him more powerful than all his favourite Marvel characters combined," she said.
"Julian has loved superheroes since he was five years old and adored dressing as Ironman, Captain America, Thor and the Hulk.
"Sometimes we couldn't even get him out of the costumes, because he loved them so much."
As the anniversary of Julian's death approached, Mrs Cadman began dreaming of a way to honour her son's memory. She came up with an idea to create a superhero poster of Julian from the many photos she had of him dressed up as the Avengers.
That's when she found Karen Alsop from Story Art.
Ms Alsop gathered the collection of photos of the young boy and set to work immortalising Julian using Photoshop, as the superhero of their hearts.
The Melbourne-based artist flew to Sydney deliver the powerful artwork in person, hoping the gift would bring healing to their hearts.
"When I shared the framed poster with Jom for the first time, my heart was breaking into a million pieces. I could see how much it meant to her but at the same time how much it hurt," she said.
"I am definitely going to be holding my own children's hands a little tighter from now on."
Julian's favourite hero was Ironman, according to his mum, but if he could have become a superhero he would have become Batman.
"He believed Batman had no superpowers but that his strength came from will; he loved that," Mrs Cadman said.
Julian was an Australian-British dual-national who loved to travel with his parents.
He was excitedly preparing for his "big role" as a page boy at his cousin's wedding in Spain when he was killed.
The news of the seven-year-old's death shocked both his parents. Mr Cadman found out his missing son had been found when he touched down in Spain after jumping on a plane in Australia following the attack.
Mrs Cadman found out when she woke from her coma with her family by her side days after the attack.
The terrorist, Moroccan-born Younes Abouyaaqoub, 22, was shot dead by police five days after the rampage.
Ms Alsop donated the artwork to the Cadman family, and self-funded her trip to give the family the poster in person.
She is raising money on GoFundMe so she can continue to help change the lives of families going through tough times.