A Year Of Fabulous Friends
It’s a year ago today that I got that terrible phone call saying Dad had died while doing charity work in the Solomon Islands.
Mum had kissed him goodbye at Brisbane airport only two days earlier, expecting to be reunited with the loud and colourful love of her life at the end of two weeks.
But he never came home. A box containing his body came home but Dad didn’t.
In some ways the past year has flown by. In other ways it’s been a long year and a sad year.
Given that today is an anniversary, even though it’s not a very happy one, I have been doing a lot of reflecting.
And the thing that jumps out at me when I think back over the past year is the wonderfulness of friends, new and old.
The old friends came out in force when they heard the tragic news about Dad. The Facebook comments, the phone calls, the emails and the comments on this blog meant so much.
There was an amazing sense of community at Mum’s house. So many people — friends and relatives — dropped by to express their sympathies. There was so much love in the house, love that shone through everyone’s shock and grief.
We saw some more old friends when we left Australia again to head back to our moo life in Chiang Mai in northern Thailand.
We had an unexpected stopover in Singapore, meaning we could catch up with some of the friends I made during our dropping back in experiment. Those Singapore friends, once just colleagues in a new workplace, are now treasured old friends.
During our seven months in Thailand we met a whole host of amazing people, travelers, bloggers, digital nomads, teachers, photographers and rat race dropouts of every description.
People like Christine and Drew and their beautiful boy Cole, like Ms S who travels solo with her three-year-old daughter when her husband is busy at work, like Shannon, a volunteering superstar who decided to whisk her niece off on a fabulous international adventure and Ms T, who lost her husband a few days after Dad died.
(There were so many amazing people that we met in Chiang Mai. To name them all would just seem like name-dropping.)
The past year also included wonderful people like the tres French Jean-Marie, a friend of a friend I met a few years ago in Ho Chi Minh City.
Jean-Marie and his beautiful wife Karina were the world’s best hosts to Miss M and I when we visited France earlier this year, taking us to Montemarte, Versailles and the local market AND throwing a wine and cheese party for us at their apartment.
There were people like Liliane, who put us up in her amazing apartment (with views of the Eiffel Tower) in Paris, throwing us a French wine and cheese party (and MAN do I love French wine and cheese parties!), taking me shopping and keeping an eye on Miss M so I could try some clothes on.
There were people like Carole, our home exchange friend, who looked after us so well while we stayed at her house in Provence, collecting us from the train station, taking us shopping, to a winery and out for ice cream. She also threw us a party, inviting all the fabulous ladies from her English class, who arrived with wine, pate and all kinds of French goodies.
People like Wendy and Florian, who came to rescue us from ourselves when we got sick in Switzlerland. After days of being cooped up inside, coughing and cleaning up Miss M’s cough-induced vomit, Wendy took us to her house for lunch and we spent the afternoon exploring Switzerland’s most beautiful backyard.
And people like Lady T-Cat, who valiantly defended my honour online when I had a rant in the Huffington Post about how unfair it was that Darling Man was refused a Schengen visa to visit Europe.
T-Cat spent the best part of a day on a train, coming to visit us in Switzerland from her new home in Germany. She was the best side-kick a traveling mum could wish for, arriving with toys, agreeing to a madcap ferry trip to France to find “the source” at Evian and helping me track down Nyon’s best fondue.
Then there’s Alice, she of the stylish hair, who welcomed Miss M and I to her apartment in Switzerland, plying us with wine, cheese, a rabbit ear headband and interesting conversation, which was so desperately needed after spending nearly a month with limited adult company.
There’s also a host of online friends, met over Facebook, through this blog and through various family travel forums. These friends have offered amazing support over the past year in all kinds of ways, from discussing toddler sleeping habits to offering sympathy for some of the strange complaints that arise from my crazy semi-nomadic semi-expat life.
And so, midway between Canada’s Thanksgiving and the American Thanksgiving, this little Australian in Vietnam is giving thanks for her fortunate life and sending out a big thank you to friends all around the world, new, old and not-met-yet.
Thank you for making the world a better place, with your smiles and friendship.
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217 days ago