I am an Australian girl with a jetsetting heart. At the age of 19 I charged off on my own to London to join a company who employed staff on cruise ships. It was my dream and so off I went. I saw so many places and it really is the most spectacular way to live life and to earn a living at the same time. I look back now and realise just how fearless that 19 year old girl was and even now I am amazed at the boldness of my moves. When I returned from the ships I came home and to be honest, I was a little restless. Not long after, I met a Canadian boy and a year later when his visa was up for expiry, the natural move was to Canada.
I had been there around 2 years when my Grandfather got sick. I read email after email about his deteriorating condition and all I could do was cry helplessly. We struggled financially in Canada and there was no way I could afford to fly home. One day I got an email from my mum telling me how much better he was getting. I said to myself "This is it, this is the end. People always come good just before they go". I didn't voice this to my mum.
He got worse and one day my mum called and told me she was flying me home. That I needed to be here to say goodbye. We made plans for me to fly out about a week later. I went to work and they gave me a hard time about taking the time off until I told them I wasn't asking for the time off, I was taking it, that I wasn't missing this for their sake. And so, they conceded.
I was pretty homesick and excited to come home. I hadn't seen my family in nearly 2 years.
The morning I was due to fly out of Halifax, I woke up about an hour before my alarm. There was a man in the corner of my room smiling down on me. I had seen pictures of this person, but at the time as it was not an image I knew from my lifetime, I didn't think too much of it.
And so I left Halifax, on my own to fly all the way home to Perth, Australia. Around 36-40 hours of flights. In Los Angeles, I boarded a Qantas plane. Qantas is an Australian airline, their logo is the kangaroo. Their theme song at the time was "I still call Australia home" originally written and performed by the boy from Oz himself, Peter Allen. I was suddenly surrounded by Aussies. I sat down, and they had the theme song come onto the screens with the kangaroos bouncing along and let's just say I was a hot mess! This girl was coming home. She was an even bigger mess when she touched down onto Australian soil in Melbourne.
5 Hours later, I had mostly pulled myself together and I landed in Perth. Greeted by my parents, I was anxious to get to the hospital to see my Grandy. They said, let's just go home first, you can shower and we will go. I didn't want to wait. But there was no bargaining, home it was.
They sat me down and I kept impressing that I wanted to go and see him now, we were wasting time. And suddenly it dawned on me. There was only one reason they wouldn't take me straight there. I was too late. I didn't get here in time. I didn't make it home to say goodbye. I said to my mum "Is he gone?". "Yes, love, I'm sorry but he is gone" she replied. You see, he died the morning I was due to leave Halifax. While at the hospital with my aunt and uncle my mum suddenly realised that I would be flying on my own all that way home, that she didn't want me to come home with that knowledge. She said "We can't tell Kate. She can't find out this way, she has to come home all by herself." My uncle agreed that yes, that was the best thing. It was put to everyone that no one was to speak of this, no facebook posts, no messages, nothing. To just wait until I was home.
Immediately I connected the dots. The man I had seen was him. Not as I had known him in life, but as a young man. I told my mum that I had seen him. That he was there in my room, smiling at me. That he was young.
Over the years all of the grandchildren had travelled, lived overseas and come back home to settle. I was the only one who wasn't home. I guess in a way, I did get to say goodbye.