At no time have we felt the distance from our families so strongly. With the shutdown of flights and closing of borders due to COVID-19, family overseas seem impossibly far away.
We are a land of many immigrants, and COVID has made the distance seem terrifying. We hear of people who had to Facetime their final farewells and then attend the funeral of a parent via Zoom.
So this is a shout-out to anyone who has gone through that or is terrified they might have to face it. You are not alone and I feel your pain.
This is possibly the scariest time of my life.
My beloved dad is in and out of the hospital, where he has been on and off for over a year now, and he now describes himself as being at the pointy end of life.
He lives in South Africa. Meanwhile, I am stuck 11,469kms away in Australia, so the chances are I will never see him again in person, and, when he does pass, I probably won’t be able to attend his funeral with my family.
This is ripping my heart out.
Watch: Robin Bailey on losing her dad at a young age. Post continues below.
Once a blur of intellectual and physical energy, he is still the dad who loves to travel and camp and hike and adventure.
Just a few years ago, he was jogging to fetch the newspaper, scaling high fences to open gates, working at a university as a lecturer and preaching at the local church. He was a man who stayed up late at night at his desk reading, writing, planning and pacing about.
In later years, he’s grown rather fond of birdwatching, gardening and cooking, too.
Now he lies in his bed most of the day, struck down by an autoimmune illness that is eating away what is left of his diseased heart. His face is puffy and skin purple from the drugs, yet his mind still so fully alert.
He seems as shocked as we are to find himself this frail and vulnerable. He feels helpless and powerless and angry that his body has betrayed him when he is not ready to die.