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Published: January 24th 2016
The phone beeps and wakes me, it's only 4am and I suspect the message is from home. Half asleep I open the message, Sophie has died.
Sophie was just 12 years old and is my nieces daughter's best friend. Instantly tears prick my eyes at the sheer sadness of a life taken so young. Then the compassion for Phobe who has lost her best friend, Chrissy and Cheryl who will be trying to console her, Sophie's family who will be in so much pain and the scale of the impact makes me cry.
We have been following Sophie's journey on FB, she had a brain tumour and had been battling cancer for over a year. The potential for this outcome was realised some time ago but Sophie and her family never gave up hope and as the tributes and messages of support flood in, the loss felt is tangible.
Sophie had warmed so many hearts and her story makes the regional news and front pages of the local newspapers. Despite her illness she had inspired others and managed to raise over £35 000 for brain tumour research but her lasting legacy has to be the love she left behind. God bless you Sophie and I say a little prayer.
My eye is still swollen from the mosquito bite yesterday and together with the tears, I look a rest mess. The evidence of the crying should subside before we are picked up for the Great Barrier Reef but I am worried about how the swelling will impact on our snorkelling. There is no scope to rearrange the day and I can't miss this opportunity so I dash to the pharmacist for some antihistamines and put my sunglasses on.
We have been told that the sea is at it's
calmest with just 10-15 knots but I know what sea sickness feels like and so I dose myself up with anti-sickness tablets too - prevention is better than cure I say to Melissa and Martin and wish I had been more careful preventing the mossie bites!
We are given our anti-sting suits (apparently jelly fish are quite prevalent) and we are taken to 3 reefs. We jump off the back of the boat and snorkel over and around the coral. The fish are amazingly colourful but the coral is not as I had expected. The boat guide tells us that this is a common misconception of most visitors. While the coral is colourful the naked eye can only see the colour if the coral is exposed to light. As the coral is so far from the surface most of it appears to be brown. The true colours are only really captured with artificial light. But what the corals lack in colour to the eye, the fish more than make up for it. Bright blues,
yellow and black stripes, green spines, leopard skin, spotted reds so on and so on. A guide from the boat takes us out for a guided snorkel and even though it is relatively calm it still takes some effort to swim against the waves even with flippers. Unfortunately the suction on the eye googles inflames the swelling on my eye and having braved two reefs I leave the third to just Martin and Melissa.
The journey between the reefs allows time for lunch and Melissa is keen to lay back and soak up the sun, something that we haven't done much of this holiday.
We are dropped back at port and call in to the nearest bar for a drink before walking back to our apartment along the high street and choose our restaurant for later. We find a restaurant that was showing a film in the garden - a first for us - they even bought out complementary popcorn!
My phone pings and it is a message to 'Prosecco Divas' the girls messenger group , it's from Anita , Maisie her daughter and Aran have got engaged. That's wonderful I say to Martin as the news
completes a day of mixed emotions of sadness, happiness, pain and pleasure.
More photos below.
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