I settled down in front of my laptop. I re-read an email from mum, worrying about something dangerous we’d mentioned in our blog and sending her best wishes for our onward travels to Australia. The email finished with the usual words of caution, care and love.
I scrolled down and noticed a new email from my dad entitled “Bad news from here”. I managed to read the first few sentences. Mum had been feeling unwell. She’d woken in the early hours unable to breathe. My dad had rushed her to hospital where she was treated for a lung clot, but the treatments weren’t working. A scan showed a tear in her oesophagus and she was rushed to theatre.
I tried to read the rest of the email, but by this point tears were streaming down my face. I picked out a couple of words: intensive care, ventilator, critical condition. Justin appeared by my side so silently I didn’t even realise he was there. He was quietly reading the email, which was written in medical language. Dad must have asked someone to write it down, knowing that Justin would understand and be able to translate. It was a very rare and sudden illness. The cause unknown, but the result is a large tear in the oesophagus that needs immediate treatment. My mum was in a critical condition, but had already beaten the odds by making it through the first 24 hours.
We’d had a talk about what we would do if something happened whilst we were away. We’d agreed to come home only if absolutely necessary. “I want to go home.” I was hoping that Justin would tell me that mum would be out of hospital soon, that there was no need to fuss, but instead he nodded his head in agreement.
I can’t really remember the next few days very well. A blur of packing and saying our goodbyes. We rang home, but there seemed to be no words to say what needed to be said. We made a promise to my dad to wait a few days in Singapore, but at the end of the day there was only really one place we wanted to be. If we have learnt anything during our travels it is that there are some things that are more important than anything else.