An awkward pause greeted an oblivious stranger who asked Danny and Leila a seemingly innocent question – with no idea that three of their children were dead.
“Oh my god, your baby is so cute. How many children do you have?”
“Wow, you are so blessed!”
It’s a seemingly innocent and inconsequential question that many parents have no doubt asked themselves.
But on Saturday night, outside a Sydney CBD hotel where the Liberal Party Hall function had just ended, that interaction stood out for a heartbreaking reason.
The woman leading the conversation, well meaning as she was, seemed to have no idea who she was talking to.
Holding a two-month-old baby in front of her were Sydney’s parents, Leila and Danny Abdallah, aged 37 and 44.
The west Sydney couple sadly lost three of their children in what became known as the Oatlands tragedy, after a drugged driver mowed down their children Sienna, 8, Angelina, 12 and Antony, 13 , in February 2020.
Their niece Veronique Sakr, 11, was also killed in the devastating accident and their only remaining daughter at the time, Liana, suffered head injuries in the incident.
The driver, Samuel Davidson, was sentenced to 28 years in prison last year and will not be eligible for parole until 2041.
Despite the tragic situation, Leila told news.com.au that she welcomes questions about her deceased children as that is how their memory lives on.
“I’ve always been prepared for this question,” Leila told news.com.au over the weekend.
“For me, when someone asks me how many kids I have, I just say I have seven kids.
“When people ask for more, I say I have three [children] in heaven and four here, so people realize who I am.
Leila even went so far as to say: “I love answering this question [because] this [having my children] is my greatest achievement.
Other parents also approached the Abdallahs, unsure of how to navigate these difficult conversations in the wake of their own personal tragedies.
“Me and Danny, we get a lot of calls and messages from people, especially when they lose loved ones, asking ‘Leila, how did you do, what did you do?'” explained Leila.
Her advice was to focus on what you still have – in her case, that was her three surviving children as well as her new baby.
In another tragic turn of events, the mother of seven added: “Really, I have nine children.
“I had two miscarriages, one before the accident, one after the accident,” she explained.
She discovered she was pregnant in August 2020, just six months after the tragedy that wiped out half of her children.
In a bizarre coincidence, Leila’s pregnancy test result came just a day before Sienna’s birthday, the day the little girl would have been nine years old if her life hadn’t been so cruelly ripped away.
She broke the news to her surviving children Liana, 12, Alex, 7, and Michael, 5, who were all very excited.
Unfortunately, a few weeks later, she had a miscarriage.
“After 11 weeks, I lost the baby,” she explained. “I didn’t really feel it… I was so numb, I was just in my heart talking to Angelina and Antony and Sienna, I was just crying because I missed my other kids more than anything, my attachment was more strong for the children who lived with me.
Earlier this year, in March, the Abdallahs melted hearts when they gave birth to their last daughter.
On March 18, Leila and Danny welcomed their daughter Selina, born at 7:45 a.m. and weighing 3.31 kilos.
She was named Selina because it is a mixture of the names of their daughters Sienna and Angelina, who died in the accident, as well as her daughter Liana, who survived.
She said she took Selina to the memorial site for her three children and added: “It breaks my heart that this is the closest she can get to her brother and sisters.
However, the Abdallahs are hoping their newborn baby will give them new purpose and mark a joyful new chapter for the family.
The Abdallahs became supporters of Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his wife Jenny after it was revealed that following tragedy as well as a home invasion last year that rocked the family, the Liberal couple gave them their provided emotional support.
Earlier this week, the Abdallah couple revealed in an interview they had become lifelong friends with the Morrisons because of their amazing gestures.
“I walked out of court and he was the first person to call me,” Abdallah said.
“He said ‘Danny, nothing will ever replace your children’. But it was the biggest manslaughter conviction, 28 years, they’ve ever given. He says ‘but that conviction was a good conviction.’
After the children’s funeral in February 2020, Jenny Morrison invited the Abdallahs to her home.
She also offered to spend the day with the Abdallahs to make sure Leila felt safe in her own home after her burglary.
Mr. and Mrs. Abdallah were invited to the Liberal HQ for Saturday night’s election.
However, after having a baby just two months ago, they decided to bring their two-month-old daughter with them.
They revealed they voted Liberal this election because of their respect for Scott Morrison and said they were ‘saddened’ Australians don’t know him like they do.
“He came to our house, he’s part of the family,” Danny said.
That said, they also congratulated Anthony Albanese on becoming Australia’s 31st Prime Minister and felt he would do a good job in his new role.
“Congratulations to our new Prime Minister Anthony Albanese. Our nation has made up its mind,” they said in a statement.
“To our Prime Minister Scott and his amazing wife Jenny, you have done an incredible job given the circumstances and difficulties we have faced over the past three years.
“Your leadership, your humility and your love for our nation are exceptional.
“Thank you for being there for us through our grief. We love you very much and will always treasure our friendship.
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