** the following was written in February in New Zealand, but I didn’t feel able to post it – or anything else – till now**
It’s been a long time since I posted.
I apologise for the silence, I just haven’t had the words or the will to find them until recently.
But because things are the way they are, I can’t write about what’s been happening here without talking briefly about what’s been happening at home too.
On Christmas day I phoned my family. I caught my Dad, his wife Pua and my sister Gallia as they arrived at Roslyn for a pre-lunch walk. The brief video-call let me see them, though Pua by this point could see little more than colours. It would be the last time I saw her. We knew she was ill, we knew it was getting worse but we had no idea how bad it would get.
In June last year she was diagnosed with a fairly innocuous cancer, and apparently unrelated had some issues with her eyes. Eventually we would discover that the vision issues were due to a virus ravaging her brain, her overstrained immune system unable to fight it off.
A few days ago, our family and friends gathered to bury her in Scotland.
My sister and father looked after her day and night through an immensely difficult time, first hoping she would make a recovery, then helping her to find comfort in her last days.
I wasn’t there.
I wasn’t really here.
I’m not sure whether I can forgive myself for either absence.
Thousands of miles away, I’ve felt pulled in two directions. Continue south and finish the journey with Jamie, or fly home and be physically near to my family? I remain unsure.
Either way Pua’s illness, her death and my own and my family’s grief have become – and will continue to be – a part of this journey.
It’s still raw, so please forgive that.