A message to my Grandad from Gili T, Indonesia

Recently, I was looking through some of the writings I’d made throughout my world travels. Today I went for lunch with my Grandma, I haven’t seen her in SO long and there’s a part of me that is so sad that he can’t join. I also haven’t seen a really good sunset around here in a while, and I’ve always believed that’s his message to say ‘Hello granddaughter!’ Therefore, in honour of my Grandad, I wanted to share with my readers (if there’s any still around that is) something special.

Towards the end of a near two year solo adventure around the world, I was on Gili T island with a friend in Indonesia. It was the same island I was on a couple of years back where I’d retreated to out of grief when Grandad first passed away. This was what happened that night I returned:

The skies were on fire for you tonight Grandad. The last time I was on this island was nearly two years ago, after you passed. My first international solo trip, when all I could think about was running and running and running away from grief. It was on this island I thought I’d lost my phone with all my pictures and videos of you, singing and joking and giving me advice – then, whilst sobbing on the beach, my friend phoned Chris to say she’d found it and my heart burst with relief.

Tonight it’s bursting for you Grandad, because I know, I KNOW this sunset was your way of saying well done. Well done Emily for being brave. Well done for travelling the fricking WORLD by yourself, despite people saying you weren’t well enough. Well done Em for allowing your heart to feel and letting people in to take care of it. Well done Em for being honest with everyone you meet and in turn speaking about something that once was your most hidden secret. Well done for allowing yourself to be vulnerable because deep down, it made you stronger.

The waves of mental illness have sometimes – especially in the last few weeks – crashed over my head and tried to pull me under – but they subside. Eventually they always do – with open conversation and a braveness to speak the truth. I don’t expect them to disappear – they’re a wave, how can they? But the days they’re lighter and more peaceful are always worth moving forward for. I will continue to be strong, to speak out and to keep the topic of mental health open for all, for me and for you Grandad. You’d be so proud.

I love you. Sweet dreams tonight.

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