my beautiful mother, my hero. the most incredible woman in the earth.
she would hate knowing that i put her photo online. we're off to beijing today. from there we then head off to europe. will be back with copious numbers of photos. x
The last text message from my Dad was sent to me on November 15th 2007, it read:
"Rach, have a fantastic time in thailand, have loads of fun, will talk to you when u get back and we have a surprise 4 you on your birthday, i love and miss u"
For three years I have read and re-read that message. Wishing that the surprise had only been the new iPod and speakers that were wrapped up, ready, waiting in my parents bedroom.
But it wasn't.
On November 8th 2007 my Dad left to go to South Africa as part of a business venture for the company he worked for, Chevron. At the time we were living in The Philippines.
I had insisted that we both have a breakfast together on the 31st floor of our apartment building - we were both incredibly busy, but we found the time. Suffice to say, it was one of the nicest times we had together.
Several days after Dad left for South Africa, I too, departed for another country; Thailand. After a roller-coaster of a week, I was glad to be arriving home to my family. Dad and I arrived home on the same day, 23rd November.
An evening was shared, exchanging gifts and plenty of stories.
The next day, 24th November, Mum, Dad and I spent the morning at Shangri-La EDSA. Over a typical Starbucks lunch we shared even more stories of our travels. At this point I was rich in the knowledge of the wonderful times my Dad had overseas. He was at one of the highest points in his life. Everything was fitting into place, he had accomplished so much in the last few years and his hard work was paying off.
That evening I left with my driver, Armando, to a friend's house to celebrate her 17th birthday. At midnight we would all begin to celebrate my very own 17th.
My celebrations were cut short when I received a text message from my sister, abruptly telling me to "come home now". After replying with a "what on earth for?" I received something that twisted my stomach in a way it had never been twisted before; "it's dad... something bad... just come home now please rachel". At this point, I had no idea what was happening, calling Zoe made it worse because she was crying so much she couldn't even tell me what was going on.
I left the party, bewildering my friends, nobody knew how serious it was. Not even me.
I knew it was bad when I walked into the lobby of my building, the hotel staff were staring at me and offered to accompany me up the lift. I knew it was even worse when I opened the door of my apartment and my parents' friend was with my sisters telling us we had to rush to the hospital that very minute.
I remember very little from the hospital. Mum was sitting on a seat and ran to us when she saw us arrive. She whispered, "he's gone".
I fell to the ground and screamed. Screamed like I had never before.
It seems cliche to say, but my life stopped right then and there. I can't remember who calmed me. Somehow they managed.
My Dad had been taken so quickly from us by what they term acute hemorrhagic pancreatitis.
It came on suddenly and ended so very swiftly.
Needless to say, I had possibly the worst birthday I could have ever asked for.
There was a blank space in my birthday card where he was to sign his birthday wishes to me.
So many people were milling around our apartment, they had good intentions and I would have never made it through the week if not for the support of the many great friends I had.
The first month was particularly hard. For the first week I had only a few hours sleep. We had to deal with two funerals, one in Manlia, the other in Wellington.
We were then plagued with the news that we would have to move back to New Zealand. We had, however, predicted this news.
Moving countries and adjusting to a new four-person family life was particularly hard.
I began to give up explaining to people why I was back in the country after only two years of being gone. Eventually I began meeting new people. People who didn't know of my past. It was easy not to mention, only to those people with whom I grew closer with.
It wasn't that I wanted to keep people in the dark, I just find that people become overly cautious when speaking to you.
Three years on and I still sometimes find it hard to cope. The days do become few and far between, as time begins to heal the gaping wound within me. Significant events are the toughest; graduations, getting a job, even receiving an A for an assignment. I think of events that are yet to happen, ones that a father shouldn't miss out on. These thoughts always leave me contemplating 'what if'. What if this hadn't happened? Where would we be now? Thoughts like these are not constructive. I try to place them as far back in my mind as possible.
These events made me the person I am today. Often I wish it didn't mean taking the kindest soul out of my life at such a young age. I was only allowed to spend seventeen years with my Dad.
They were, however, some of the best seventeen years of my life.
I am turning twenty tomorrow.
I am thinking of you, Dad.
I know you are thinking of me too. Somewhere.
I miss you. I love you. So much. This is for "best dad in the world".
as a side-note: i am unsure of who the wonderful people are in the photos, well, more like who was 'supposed' to be in them. i'm not even sure of where they were taken. but it remains that under all of the darkness there are some pretty faces of people i love