Tears threaten to challenge my cool exterior. Ten years ago, hysterical tears fell freely. Since then soldiers, war, death, disease, travels in multiple foreign countries and multiple heartaches have led to this moment. The moment my cool exterior is at risk of breaking and the brick walls I have build up about this event are starting to crumble.
It’s 0330 when the alarm rudely shatters my sleep and whilst normally this would not be appealing on this date it is mandatory. The 25 April each year is ANZAC Day. It fills my heart and soul with pride and memories. Soldiers lie forever under foreign soil and still to this day wars rage on new foreign soils. The medals that adorn the space above me heart are but a small reminder of the sacrifices of the men and women that served before and after me.
As I dress in half slumber the most vital item of my attire was buried deep in the back of my sock drawer. A small handkerchief, frayed at the corners with beautiful blue and lilac flowers and a blue star border. This tiny handkerchief holds the memory of my resting soldier. My father. On the day of my fathers funeral my mother handed me this tiny little piece of fabric. Each ANZAC Day since it has been tucked neatly in my suit pocket. Today is no different but today is different. 2012 is the ANZAC Day that proceeds my fathers 10th Anniversary.
As I pick up friends to attend the Dawn Service at the Amphitheatre, Westin Hotel, Mina Seyahi, overlooking the Atlantis Hotel on Palm Jumeirah, Dubai my heart is heavy. Pinning a poppy on my lapel as we arrived I still couldn’t shake the feeling of sadness. Reverting to daddy’s little girl I struggle to remember the sacrifices of the soldiers I just remember each time I called him to tell him I had been promoted or a deployment. I remembered him telling me that he struggled with the military having been called up for duty in Vietnam. I struggled with the fact he was not here to see his only daughter living life on her terms.
Worst I remembered his last breathe as I frantically tried to understand why he was being taken from me. The room was cold and the chairs uncomfortable but I didn’t want to leave his side. I was blessed enough to be at his bedside in those last moments. Now the chairs are cold and wet and I know I should remember my blessings but all I feel is the intense pain of missing my father.
As the Last Post and Reveille played I turned into that little girl that idolised her father. How was I to reconcile that he was watching over me but not beside me? Later the traveler in me inspired a way of smiling because he was my Dad and honouring him for who he was. My father didn’t particularly like his military service and I know he came home a different man but I adored his service and being his little girl, followed his footsteps. So how does one heal a long rested father and a baby girls heart? What would be a the right way to celebrate the father I love than go to the place that inadvertently lead to me being a soldier.
In a blur of planning and emotions, hostels and flights are booked. Leave approved and research into the location of my fathers unit happened so quickly that I had but little chance to catch a breathe. In a few short weeks I will touch down in Vietnam and bring healing to both my father and myself. My heart is already filling with happiness.
The desire to go to Vietnam has been strong ever since I joined the military in 1996 but for many years I couldn’t bring myself to go. I know it wasn’t the time to set foot on the soil that changed my father but that lead me to being a soldier. My father’s 10th anniversary is the perfect time to go and my gypsy heart knows traveling to Vietnam at this moment in time is going to be a God given trip that will open my heart just that little bit more.