A week later and it’s time for the successful applicants to be announced. I immediately check my emails upon waking – no news yet. I manage to remain focused all morning at work, occasionally glancing at my phone for a flashing light signalling a new email. Nothing. The afternoon was more difficult as I attended a rather unengaging training session and rudely checked my phone way too many times. Still nothing. I resisted checking my phone during my hour long personal training session and when I finally did – still nothing. I went home and kept checking. While making dinner, I stumbled upon a video on Facebook by Fabian Dattner about the Homeward Bound application process, which I’d somehow missed. I thought it was probably best not to watch it, but I couldn’t help myself. I was relieved that having watched the video, I wouldn’t have changed a thing in my application.
Finally, at 8:20pm WST on Monday evening, the email came in. I scrolled down trying to find in the sea of dense text whether I was in or not. And there it was. I was in. I screamed and squealed and jumped and flapped. I almost hyperventilated and nearly cried. I completely freaked my cats out. I rang my brother and nearly burst his ear drum screaming, “I got in, I got in, I got in”. It took him a second to understand what I was saying. I rang my parents hoping they weren’t yet in bed (it was almost 11:30pm in Melbourne). I had regained a little of my composure by this stage. They were thrilled for me. I messaged my cousin and friends who had helped review my application. It took me a few hours to calm down. I tried to sleep. I dreamed of Antarctica.
The next day at work I grinned like a Cheshire cat. People asked me what I was so pleased about. I couldn’t hide it, so I sent an email to my team. It was a strange feeling for me as I don’t normally tell people about my achievements. But this time, I told everyone. The next few days were a blur as I tried to process my acceptance and figure out exactly what I’d gotten myself into.
On Wednesday morning, my dad messaged me to say my Grandma had deteriorated. I already had a flight booked for Friday to visit her, but we weren’t sure if she’d make it. After numerous phone calls and much consternation, I decided at lunch on Thursday that I should fly that afternoon. I changed my flight and left work. I eventually made it to the nursing home around midnight. Over the next few days I made coffee, food and supply runs. My dad, aunt and I reminisced, looked at photos and planned her funeral. We stayed in her room, with the three of us taking turns to watch my grandma while the other two slept.
My grandma survived revolutions, refugee camps, harsh boats journeys around the world and even a brief period of slavery. Her survival instinct was engrained in every cell of her body and she fought until the end. She died just as I was saying goodbye to leave for the airport. Her one wish was to not die alone. She died in the arms of her two children and her eldest grandchild. Within 20 minutes I was in a car on my way to the airport. It was an emotional week to say the least.