Here I am in rural, wild Thailand at a relaxed peaceful eco resort where my only possible frustration is geting fast wifi access to upload youtube video blogs. Ok and maybe the mosquitos converging all at once, truth be told.
I used Skype to phone home for the first time since I left 3 days ago. My husband answered in a sleepy voice, as it was 11pm there. We had a breif warbled talk and I was going to sign off because of the technology challenges and he really couldn’t hear me that well. I almost said goodbye, but he started to say something, then stopped. I said ‘go ahead’, since I could hear him perfectly. He started the next sentence with…”I wasn’t going to tell you this now, but since you’ve called…”
His tone set my alarms off. My mind raced forward; What was going on at home? Then he told me. “Mum died yesterday.”
I was still stuck on that first sentence as he continued with details of how my mother in law was rushed to hospital, had conversations with everyone -even spoke to Gary on the phone about going home- then 24 hours later she sat upright and told everyone there, “I have to go!” and then she chose in that moment to leave.
Somehow it was not making sense, but I knew what he was saying. His mother, in frail health was gone. Her mental and physical condition had deteriorated in the last year and Gary had only gone back 2 weeks ago to celebrate her 85th birthday. A mix of emotions took control of me – Kath was gone! Gary is alone to deal with his mothers death – my kiwi mother, and I am in Thailand for 3 weeks. Gary wasn’t going to tell me because he didn’t want me to come back and cut the trip short, and no one in the family expected me to come back. Plus, he said, I wouldn’t make it back in time for the funeral today. He is flying to NZ alone. But what about the boys, I thought? My 16 year old and 11 year old are not going with him? My mind raced ahead in confusion. He is leaving them home alone for 2 days. Both boys are on school holidays. Our friends and neighbours rallied round to help and offered to look in on them.
But I am here! I listened to him and told him I am so sorry that I am not there. Only a few weeks ago we talked about this possibility. We talked about all four of us flying back if it happened, because I wanted to be there too. This woman accepted me as her daughter in law the moment I met her back in 1988. All of Gary’s family (my kiwi family) have been there for me for over 20 years. I should be there! I wanted to be there. And now that choice has so many complications.
So, I stay here. He grieves alone. He grieves with his family. My family. And I will still be here for several weeks.
I think about my children – alone in their grieving too. But we have raised them to be independent – and this, I suppose, is their coming of age. I will call them soon, to at least be there in voice with them.
As I process all this emotion throughout the day there are times when I feel calm, happy and almost blissful in this beautiful serene wild countryside in Thailand. The sadness and regret are gone. Then the “shoulds” and “shouldn’ts” come in. I shouldn’t be happy – Kath is gone – Gary and the kids are alone.
Yet strangely enough, this is what I came here to experience; choosing happiness regardless of the circumstances. How odd all of this is! Yet I am complete with Kath. I loved her and I love her. And tomorrow I may cry again, but for this moment I choose to be happy. Goodbye Kath, and thank you for coming into my life.