A flashback to Pai, November 2016. My friend Liam and I are staying at a Circus School. We're watching the evening fire show, when my phone starts to vibrate in my shorts pocket. A FaceTime call from Nan. My gut instinct is to panic. My Nan NEVER FaceTimes me - she hates being on camera, and that instinctively rings alarm bells in my head. I run off to a quiet spot to answer, and as the image on screen springs to life, I'm met with the shaky and breathless voice of my Nan - she sounds panicked.
"Emma, the bombs. Are you ok? Are you safe? The bombs."
I have NO idea what my Nan is talking about and I try to calm her.
"Nan, I'm safe, there are no bombs. I'm watching a show. What's wrong?"
"I saw it on the news, the bombs, in Baghdad. That's where you are, isn't it? Baghdad?"
I try to stifle a little laugh.
"No, Nan, I think you're thinking of Bangkok. I'm in Thailand. And I'm nowhere near Bangkok anyway..."
Happy in the knowledge that I've not been injured or killed in Iraq, Nan talks to me a little on the phone, her camera now pointing at her ceiling, no longer on her face. She makes me promise that 'If I can't be good, to be careful,' we say our goodbyes, and I head back to finish watching the rest of the show with Liam, overcome with affection for my beloved Nan.
Unfortunately, in early January 2017, Nan passed away peacefully in her home. I was just about to leave Thailand and fly to India. Making the decision as to whether I should get on that plane to India or to fly back home was the hardest decision I think I've ever had to make. In the end, I chose to continue on with my travels - heavily influenced with the knowledge that it's what my Nan would have wanted. I don't regret getting on that plane to India, but I can easily say that over the next couple of weeks, I have never felt further away from home.
I could relay thousands of stories to you about this brilliant lady. Nearly all of them would make you laugh. Most of the photos or videos that were taken on my travels were taken with my Nan in mind. I'm pretty certain that if I asked someone to stop and take a photo of me, I will have used the phrase "Can you please take a picture of me here - it's for my Nan." I know how much she loved looking through my travel photos, and I definitely have her to thank for the fact I made sure to take so many.
It's been over a year since Nan died. Because I'm still away, it doesn't really feel real. I still take photos with her in mind. I think I always will. I still half expect to receive a text from her and the dog, and then I remember that there won't be any more texts. Then I read back through her old texts and smile through tears. I was in two minds as to whether or not I should even write this post, it almost feels too personal. But this blog is essentially a diary, and my Nan was a huge part of not only my travels, but my entire life.
Miss you, Nan.x