Then all of the sudden there it was, the long awaited piece of (digital) paper: Approved! I can stay in Australia, I passed, I’m in. I no longer have an ‘in between’ status, I am now a (almost) full legal resident. I had imagined the moment so many times that now that it was here and it was real, it almost wasn’t a big deal. It also came three days before our trip to Europe for which I already requested & paid a travel visa for, a detail that almost pissed me off. But come on, who cares, all pieces were falling together. Our long awaited trip to Europe was about to start and I could come back and high five those security guards at the airport when coming back to the land down under. I was free, free from all the burden. A big break from work, a break from the cold winter that was hitting Melbourne, new adventures in front, it was a wonderful feeling. But obviously soon enough I was stressed by little things: last minute packing, hair appointment only a few hours before departure, was my suitcase too heavy? should I have packed those shoes? did I handover all my work before leaving? Once the plane took off, there was no more thinking, just relax, put those noise-cancelling headphones on and watch all of the movies.
6 unforgettable weeks, old and new faces and places, so many emotions, one after the other. Bit of work in between as well (not all weeks were leave) which at times was difficult to combine with the things going on around us. A met some of my friends and family he never met before and I met parts of his for the first time as well. Gay pride in London, camping in the middle of the stunning Scottish Highlands, weddings, wine and cheese by the pool in a French villa, pizza-gelato-and-karaoke with my high school besties, tea with grandma, strolls through my birth city and it all ending on a high note when I embraced my Copenhagen again.
Bad things happened too. My grandpa passed away and I wasn’t there. Again I’m not there, this time I maybe could have but for various reasons it didn’t occur. As in, it wasn’t unexpected as my other grandpa, we knew it was coming. And yes, it would have been good to see him before he left us. I thought about him, the odd character he was, so much family he had but still alone, my dad the only one on his side at the end in a country that wasn’t his. A weird combo.
What did go through him those months when all was coming so close to an end? Did he realise? Did he live a good life? What is a good life? And what would be worth having lived for?
My grandpa was a simple man with a wealth of knowledge. He had a big library, all the classics you can possibly imagine. He loved the opera, read his paper every day and cut out articles which he all piled up in different stacks (for future use?), he methodically collected all the little points on the dairy (milk and mozzarella), which his granddaughter (me) could then all glue on the sheet to send in for the prize. 6500 points for a toaster. A toaster that he would never use. And now, who will think of him? When my dad is gone, when I’m gone, will he be forgotten? He will be and so will we all. This is our number one fear as humans: to be forgotten. We try to grab onto things to get as close as we can to immortality: fame, big acts or procreation. But even through procreation, the memory of who we are only last a couple of generations. Somehow the idea that at least our DNA has been passed on, makes us feel less scared.
I realise I didn’t know my grandfather that well, he wasn’t the easiest man but I still think I could have made more of an effort. It makes me happy to think my younger brothers got to know him better and were with him regularly in the last years of his live. DJ, one of my brothers, said to me after he passed away: “I saw him every week, he was smaller every time but he always had a big smile on his face and was ready with a joke.” This made me cry the most and stuck with me, it was so beautiful.