On this day five years ago I flew from Vancouver to San Francisco eagerly awaiting our reunion after the failed start that was Canada (visa technicality meant you’d been denied entry to Canada and sent back to Thailand).
I hadn’t heard from you which was incredibly strange and off the back of the events of the previous 48 hours, to say I was a wreck was an understatement. Still I hoped and listened to everyone’s genuine reassurance and pushed on to what was to be a fresh start to our overseas trip.
Hours later I sat in San Francisco International Airport arrivals lounge. For 3.5 hours I anxiously scanned every person who walked through those doors but none of them were you. I eventually went to the the Information desk and all they could tell me was that if you had been detained they couldn’t release that information, and to check return flights to Bangkok, Thailand, for an idea of when you might arrive back there (if you’d been deported).
I can’t explain the fear and anxiety that was coursing through my veins. I knew something was terribly wrong.
New reassurances came: “he is probably just stuck with the authorities and will be released soon” or “he has gone to a hostel for the night ‘cos he couldn’t contact you” (the most absurd suggestion, given he had all our accommodation details) and many other variations of “It’s Gus, he’ll be fine!”. Except I knew you weren’t. This was wrong; all so very wrong.
That night I didn’t sleep. Every movement outside the house I was staying at made me sit up, my stomach a pit of despair, hoping and praying it was you at the door. Morning came and nothing. The next day was spent compiling a timeline of events to provide Interpol, as you were now officially a missing person. And trying to find a way to make sense of what was happening without any idea of what was actually happening.
The call came at 6am (San Francisco time) the next morning. It was my dad. You’d been found dead in a hotel room along with another young Canadian man.