365 Happy Days – A daily smile – Part 1

I’ve been writing about rugby for over a year now and have loved every minute, a fan of both codes means I always have something to watch and to share my thoughts on. Add in a good portion of cricket and I rarely find myself sitting around doing nothing. I genuinely love the sports I watch and will even find myself at a football (Wendyball) game if I’m lacking rugby.

I find the words flow when I’m talking sport and with that in mind I’m going to have a go at writing about life in general and the reasons the #365HappyDays are so important to me.

Where to start? I have a lot to share but I think I’ll start a mere 5 years ago.

To set the scene I need to tell you about my family, well, my children. Luke was born on 2 October 1987, so it’s his birthday next week. Alexandra was born in May 1992 and Jake in March 1995. Mother to 3 lovely children, the only thing is, that Luke who would have been 27 next week, died in Thailand on 14 July 2009 after being involved in an accident.

I will tell you more about my 1st born but for now I’m going to recall the events that changed the lives of my family 5 years ago.

Luke had a dream, he used to keep notebooks (I discovered just before he travelled to Thailand) it seems he was a bit of a philosopher as well as a bit of a dreamer.

When he was about 15 he wrote in one of his notebooks – ‘Must Travel’ and in bold letters was the word Thailand.

An opportunity arose for Luke to make that trip when a work situation went wrong (quite a lot had ‘gone wrong’ in his life).

He needed a change of scenery and I took the decision to help him fulfil one of his dreams.

A flight was paid for and we set off for the airport, the plan was for Luke to travel in Thailand and the surrounding countries before he set off for Australia to spend time with his Auntie & Uncle and family.

Just before he left Luke ‘allowed’ me to be his friend on Facebook, it’s never quite cool to have your Mum on your page, and I may have been guilty of stalking my kids at one time, Alex certainly banned me at one time! 😳.

We drove to Heathrow in pouring rain, Alex came along to say goodbye to her big brother. We had a huge laughing fit when we were in a queue of traffic; I pointed out to a young guy that his wheel hub was falling off; he waved and rolled into the car in front of him!

Needless to say we moved very quickly! Not a happy memory for the car bumper, but Ooh it made us laugh!
Luke was so incredibly excited as he headed off on his adventure, although nervous about my boy jetting off to the other side of the world I couldn’t help but be happy for him. At that time I never dreamt it would be the last time I saw him alive.

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Facebook proved to be heaven sent as Luke posted photos as he arrived, I wasn’t too amused to see a bullet riddled car, riots had broken out in Bangkok during the week he arrived.

He seemed to be amused by the fact but it’s not such a comfort to know your boy’s in the middle of bedlam!

Luke had what was clearly an amazing 3 months in and around Thailand; he met people wherever he went and I learnt after he died that he made a big impression on those he met.

He looked at the things he was seeing with fresh, almost child like eyes, marvelling at everything. One of the lads he met told me he made him see things in a different way. In spite of a chequered time growing up Luke wasn’t jaded he had an almost child like quality when it came to new things.

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From the photos he posted on Facebook it was clear Luke was having the time of his life. There were the cultural views, but also lots of time was clearly spent getting to know new people and having fun with them.

Lots of messages came through, most of them ending with a ‘I need more money’. Some things never change!

More about Luke’s teenage years later…. That could be a whole book on its own! But we also finished every communication with ‘I love you’ something I’m hugely grateful for.

If you have people in your life you love? Tell them, it’s really important!

As mid July approached I discovered something in my life that would turn it upside down and finish my marriage. Bizarrely now I look back I kept what I knew to myself for 2 weeks so I could concentrate on finishing my work before I moved jobs.

On 10 July I decided to tell my husband what I’d found out about our life and let him know we wouldn’t have a life together after that weekend.

I went out that night then went back to my brothers’ house.

I had an uneasy feeling about Luke as he hadn’t posted on Facebook for a couple of days.

Things didn’t feel quite right, but with no news I carried on with my plans, being outraged at the betrayal I’d discovered and planning how I was going to deal with it.

I went to a London Broncos game, then back to my brothers’, I had a niggling feeling of disquiet about my boy. Sunday 12 July was spent with much angst telling the man I was married to face to face that we were done.

I woke up on 13 July and went straight to Facebook, there I discovered a post to Luke from a friend he’d met along the way Mikael Kruger to say that he was sorry he’s missed him, that he’d heard about his bike accident and seen the bike, that it was in a bad state, that he was upset that the hospital wouldn’t let him talk to Luke.

And so began the biggest and most awful nightmare I could ever imagine.

My husband had gone away but contacted the Foreign Office to see if they could trace Luke. They called at 5am the next morning to say that my son was in a hospital, he’d been hit while riding a scooter by a taxi driver in a pick up truck.

In what I can only imagine was fear, rather than a lack of care, the driver drove off and left Luke in the road.

He was found by a Swiss tourist I believe who called for help and Luke was taken to the Mainland, the accident had happened on the Full Moon island Koh Pha Ngan.

I contacted Luke’s insurance company who started the ball rolling to move him to Bangkok. In the meantime my husband returned and in a conversation I’ll never forget seemed to be told on the phone by a doctor that Luke was brain dead.

Flights were booked to Thailand and very kindly Thai Airways gave us a berth in 1st Class. I would say I was feeling hollow and very afraid not knowing what I was going to find when I arrived.

The one ‘thing’ we couldn’t find was Luke; he wasn’t in the hospital in Bangkok.

There was no one from the Embassy to meet us, and no one to help us find Luke either. My older brother who was actually in Portugal made phone calls as we tried to find out where Luke was.

We were given a contact for the hospital he was taken to in the 1st instance and went to the reception of the hotel we’d booked. The receptionist made the call, he looked away as he took on board what he was being told, then went to get a manager.

That poor man had the task of telling me that my son had died as we were travelling to the airport. Writing this now I can almost see myself in the foyer of that hotel as the news was broken.

At this point I’m going to pause, to collect my thoughts before I write about what happened next. More to follow……


22 thoughts on “365 Happy Days – A daily smile – Part 1

  1. Although I’ve heard most of this story from you before, it’s still shocking and I really can’t imagine what emotions you went through. I hope writing this down is positively impactful you.

    N. x

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      1. I maybe be able to do this one day Debbie! it’s one thing that call, knock, the devastating news, but then you go on another night mare, fighting the systems, people don’t always hear that ! The whole process of losing your son is horrendous, and you are trying to deal with your grief your lost. Your luke would be very proud of you xx

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  2. Tears are falling from my eyes. Brave can’t even cut it. Debs you are a truly remarkable woman. I remember those first few days after the news.

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  3. He is very sorely missed an sometimes even now expect to hear his voice in the pub or go back to the last time I saw him at the local ‘fair’. As you say you have to make every moment count as u never no. Big hugs my sweet, have to get the gang together for dinner asap xxx

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  4. So beautifully written Debbie, I am in tears. I didn’t know you then, but we have spoken many times since about what happened to Luke. Reading this is different though. Your writing makes me feel as though I’m walking right behind you through this almost unfathomable trauma. Your aim is to help others know they can learn to live with this. Well I can tell you with certainty you will achieve that. Much love. xx

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