The above picture shows Sam with Jeremy, her lovely fiance. Whilst I was in Poland, Sam regularly invited Kev to her home to feed him her famous Sunday dinners. She doted on Josh, the feelings were reciprocated, and he was thoroughly spoiled.
I was in Poland when I found out about Sam’s death. Our wedding was scheduled for 18 February 2017 and Sam had bought her outfit and was excitedly looking forward to it. Just nine days prior to the wedding, I was on a high. I was due to fly home on Saturday the 11th and had bought Sam a plane ticket for Saturday, the 25th to return to Wroclaw with me for a week’s holiday. We were both looking forward to it so much. I had made plans to treat her to a luxury pedicure, as she loved her beauty treatments. I had earmarked the restaurants I would take her to and my friends were excited to meet her.
So, on Thursday 9 February 2017, I was feeling pretty good about life. I had been to the hairdresser with my friend, Elaine but, as we came out, she remarked that her husband had received an urgent email from Kev. It was rather cryptic, stating that it was bad news about a friend but I just somehow knew it was about Sam and had a dreadful feeling it would be the worst news. I rushed home and rang Kev, who had the unenviable task of relaying the news to me. Sam had died in her sleep at the age of 45.
Talk about ‘don’t shoot the messenger!’ I put the phone down on poor Kev, couldn’t handle it. I rang Elaine, who came to my apartment immediately and, bless her, stayed with me until about teatime. She just sat with her arm around me, listening to me blubbing on, and brewing me umpteen cups of tea. I cried so much that I didn’t think it was possible that I could produce any more tears. Meanwhile, she had spoken to Kev and reassured him that she was with me. Kev loved Sam, too. It was so unfair of me to pull away from him but there’s no accounting for what grief will do to you. At one stage, Elaine rang her husband, who was director of the school, and asked him to cancel my class. It was the last one scheduled before the February break and I obviously wasn’t in a fit state to teach.
I eventually sent Elaine home to her family, after telling her how very grateful I was for her support. When I finally got round to speaking to Kev, he suggested that I change my scheduled flight from Saturday to Friday, the next day. With the help of another dear friend, Michelle, I managed to do this. I do not know how on earth I would have coped without my friends.
Even now, after four years, my eyes are filling up with tears as I write this. I had packed my bags for the following day and had set my alarm for about 3.30 am, as my earlier flight was very early indeed! I could not sleep for crying and thinking about Sam and I was worried I would not hear my alarm and miss my flight. I remember ranting to God, “You’re supposed to be a comfort to me in these times! I can’t sleep and I’m going to be fit for nothing tomorrow.” I was also dreading waking up with the fresh knowledge of it all. You know – when you have slept on something and you wake up and hope it’s all a horrible nightmare but you find out it’s not – the rawness hits you afresh.
Eventually I did get to sleep and I woke up with the alarm, feeling refreshed and – amazingly – quite calm. I got ready and waited for my taxi to the airport. And let me tell you, it was the easiest and most stress-free journey I have ever made. The taxi turned up on time, my flight was on time but what really astounded me was my experience at Wroclaw airport. As I approached the desk to show my passport, a smiling young man said, “Good morning – how are you today?” He couldn’t have known I was English, as he hadn’t yet seen my passport and I hadn’t uttered a word but he was so welcoming, I believe this was the Lord’s doing. The flight was a dream – smooth as silk, I felt as if I was in a warm little bubble of love and care. Kev was at the airport, clutching a big bunch of flowers, and I ran up to him and hugged him and hugged him, and he took me for breakfast before going home. Looking back, I am smiling and remembering how the Lord showered his love, care and protection on me that day.