My name is Cleo

Simon Smart celebrates the unexpected and miraculous good news of the safe return of Cleo Smith to her parents.

“My name is Cleo”. There’s music in that sentence.

Everyone was expecting the worst, so the news this week that Cleo Smith had been found and returned safely to her parents 18 days after she’d been snatched from a campground in Carnarvon on Western Australia’s remote coastline has been captivating.

Her disappearance had all the hallmarks of a kind of gruesome, sensational news story that appears all too regularly in our feeds. A small child taken in the night while her parents slept close by. We all know how these things end.

In the lead up to this week’s miracle I’d glanced at the updates about Cleo, not dwelling on the details. My mind didn’t want to go there. I remember the day before she was discovered “alive and well”, I’d offered up a half-hearted prayer, not really believing she could possibly be OK.

I’ve been trying to imagine what it would have been like for the police involved in the case to be standing at the door of the house, ready to smash the lock and burst in. They must have been dreading what they would likely find. The police life is a relentlessly tough existence. They see humanity at its worst. Detectives are mostly involved in cases where even a good result is not that good.

So, it’s not surprising that some of these battle-hardened men were reduced to tears when Cleo was found. It was a moment of rare and tender beauty, the little confused girl clinging to the police officer as she is spirited to safety. An unexpected moment of grace. A light in the darkness.

“What’s your name sweetheart?”