Why I feel lucky my much-loved dad passed away when he did

Letitia, with her dad Jeff, on her wedding day in 2007.
Letitia, with her dad Jeff, on her wedding day in 2007. Photo: Supplied

My father died in a Gold Coast hospital on August 3, and for this I am thankful.

Not thankful my much-loved dad passed away, of course - that is heartbreaking and my family misses him every day.   

But, given the battle currently being fought by family after family to be with dying loved ones in Queensland, I will always be grateful that through sheer luck of timing I was able to be by dad's side for the final week of his life.

A hard time to farewell a loved one.
A hard time to farewell a loved one.  Photo: Supplied

You see, I live in Sydney and when I got the 4am phone call from my brother on July 27 telling me my dad had been rushed to hospital and I should come, I was able to do just that.

I filled in a border declaration form, booked the next flight to the Gold Coast and made my way to my dying dad's side.

If that life-changing call had come 17 days earlier or five days later, things would have been very different.

At the time I remember being thankful I didn't live in one of the then Sydney "hotspots" where residents were already banned from Queensland.

However, I also remember thinking I surely would have been allowed an exemption on compassionate grounds if that had been the case. Now I'm not so certain.   

As heartbreaking stories, such as that of Mark Keans' family and others like them, unfold each day, I've realised I too would have been one of those fighting to get across the border to say goodbye to my loved one for the final time.


Would I have had to hotel quarantine for 14 days before being allowed to visit my dad?

If so, it would have been too late - as it was for devastated Sarah Caisip

Just the thought of that possibility brings tears to my eyes.

Those last seven days I spent with my 83-year-old dad are a time I will never forget. 

Yes, we were sad, but we also shared happy memories and laughed together. 

We chatted about his life, his grandchildren and his love for our mother, who passed away more than two decades earlier. 

We sat by dad's bedside all day long, spoke to the hospital's amazing palliative care team about his wishes and needs and sometimes just held his hand. 

What kind of a cruel world is it where a son or daughter isn't allowed some kind of exemption to be able to provide that comfort to their elderly parent in their dying days?

After my father died, I was desperate to get back to Sydney to be with my husband and two young sons, who I missed terribly during one of the most emotionally exhausting weeks of my life. 

I was unable to get a flight from Gold Coast Airport, as borders were now firmly shut and there were no flights to Sydney.

So, I booked a flight home from Ballina Airport, hired a car and drove south. 

As much as I was looking forward to getting home to my boys, my thoughts did pause for a moment as I crossed the border into NSW. 

Yes, I had been there to say my goodbyes to my dad, but when would I be able to see my brother again?

When will my husband, children and I be able to travel back to Queensland so we can have a celebration of dad's life as a family and scatter his ashes as planned?

With the way things currently stand, that is anyone's guess. My hope is we will be able to get there by Christmas.

For now, I will remain thankful I got to be with my dad in his last days.

If only every family could be so lucky.