Editors Journal

I’m Back – Where Have I Been?

After a three month break of healing, from a life altering experiencing, I’m back. So, where have I been you ask?

On December 13th 2021, I received a horrible phone call from my dad. He was in hospital with an acute respiratory infection. And one without a promising outcome. His diagnosis was not looking good, but he was remaining positive and seemed in high spirits when we spoke.

He kept me updated daily, and we spoke as often as we could. Doctors were trying varying treatments and some with great success, until something else would spike up and another incident would occur and then they were back at square one.

Here’s the hardest part out of all of it. My dad lived overseas, on the small island of Tenerife in the Canary Islands. I couldn’t get there, I couldn’t be with him, and even if I managed to get a flight to the island (after dealing with all sort of crazy COVID restrictions here in Australia), there’s no guarantee I would have been allowed into the hospital to be with him anyway.

As the days past, Christmas and new year flew past and with a new hope of a revolutionary treatment for his lungs being conducted on him and with an okay result that may get him out of hospital so he could self treat at home, I remained hopeful that he would soon be video calling me from his little Spanish apartment which looks over the beautiful beach there at Los Cristianos.

In early January, he sent me a message and said he was feeling pretty good and asked if I was up for a video chat? I jumped at the chance to see his face, as I hadn’t had a video chat with him in over a month now, and I missed him terribly. Especially as we video chatted at least every fortnight and have done for the last 3 years at least.

Although he has lived in Tenerife for nearly five years, pre covid we would video or phone chat every two to three months. Mostly due to our lives being filled with social events and things to do in our daily routines. Then when COVID happened, we opted to chat more and more via video chat, as we were both then stuck inside, no where to go, nothing to do. And plenty of time to talk.

It’s funny, how something so small becomes a form of obsession. What I mean is, if a few weeks go past and if we hadn’t spoken, there was a huge vacancy left on the soul, as you begin to realise how much you adore, admire and relish at these humble conversations online with one another.

So to not speak for a month, except via text and not seeing each others faces was hard – harder than hard actually. When we finally teed up a chat that worked around his hospital schedule, I was not prepared for the site in front of me. It was hard not to break down on the video call. So I did. I couldn’t hold back. And neither could he.

Once we got past all the crying, we moved on to a small chat, before he mentioned the smallest sentence to set me off again – it’s so good to see your face. And that was it. I was gone again, trying hard to breath and just crying.

He was on a respirator, which I was not happy about, as I had read some fairly nasty studies about those machines and how bad they are for you. But then, I am not a doctor, and when you see your loved one in that state, it’s challenging not to ask questions, wishing I could be there with him in person, so I could drill the doctors on what the actual prognosis was and what was actually going on with him. Feeling frustrated at the site of dad doesn’t begin to describe how I was feeling.

But we edged past all the anxiety, stress and emotional feelings of seeing each other, and as I could see talking for prolonged periods of time was hard for him, I took over the conversation and blabbed on about my cats (all 5 of them – 1 of which was pregnant at the time), how Christmas again under COVID restrictions was weird, and new year was even weirder.

That I was over it all (like everyone else), and how I wish I cold just buy a ticket and get to him to spend some time with him. And how Sydney (hell, Australia) had become a city filled with negativity, division, loneliness and depression since COVID happened. And I just wasn’t sure the city would recover and ever get back to how it was.

At the end of the conversation, which went for an hour, we had to say goodbye and I hated every moment of it. Something deep inside told me something wasn’t right. That perhaps dad wasn’t given me the full story, so I wouldn’t worry. Either way, I had to respect his circumstances (which is hard for a control freak virgo like me), and just wish him well, told him I loved him and then hang up the phone.

The hardest conversation I have ever had in my life. Harder than the last one I had with my mother before her passing. Probably because when my mum passed, I was at her bedside. This time, I could only be there for my dad virtually.

And although he convinced me he would be okay before I hang up the video call, something seemed off about the whole thing. And I was right too. On January 13th 2022, I received a call from his best mate who lived on the island with him. The doctors had placed dad in a deep sleep, as his conditioned worsened and there was no recovery. That evening he passed away quietly in his sleep.

I was confused, and didn’t understand what was going on. Why was he placed in an induced sleep? I had only spoken to him via 24-hours before. Was someone else writing the messages for him? I was a mess and couldn’t make sense of any of it. Even as I write this, all those emotions come flooding back and I feel lost not knowing or understanding what happened to him.

Not being at the hospital with him, finding out what was really going on and why it happened is hard. So hard, that even the emotional recovery of grieving since his passing has me feeling lost and confused at times, not really understanding how we got to this, and why he is not longer here.

When someone is living overseas, especially a loved one, like a parent or sibling, these are the things you don’t think of. The what will happen if that person gets sick, something happens. Or worse, pass away.

I debated whether or not I would actually share this story, but I figure it explains why I have been missing from my blog for so long – three months is a long time. Thankfully, I had a stack of content I had created over the holiday period, which I could post to my socials, to seem active. But, to write. That’s was an entirely different issue.

When you’re not in the right frame of mind it’s a lot easier to create something visually than it is to actually take the time to sit down and write. But here we are, and here I am. Finally writing about where I have been and what happened.

Of course, life has taught me that no amount of time can help with the healing process. However, being freelance I had to place some sort of time limit on how much time I needed to take to grieve. After three months, I made the decision that I had to come back and start working.

My clients were all so understanding and lovely and really supported me throughout the whole process. Which made things a lot easier. But it also made things far more stressful when the time came to start back working, as they had three months of backed up work waiting for me HAHA. So since them, I have been flat out, which has made the days fly by faster and the time escape from me.

And as for the whole grieving process, well I’m still going through the emotions on that one. It comes and goes in waves.

The hardest part of it all is the process of trying to get dad’s ashes back home. But that’s a story I will be sharing for next week – repatriation. Until dad passed away, I didn’t even know what that meant. And now, well let’s just say, I know everything about it now and how emotional it can be to deal with it all when a loved one passes whilst living (or travelling) overseas.

I am a freelance writer and content creator who designs website and manages social media. I also write travel and beauty for www.renaesworld.com.au, and a weekly beauty column for www.bondibeauty.com.au whilst managing my own personal travel and lifestyle blog at www.my-life-journal.com

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