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On the 3rd of September 2016, I rushed into the door to be welcomed with a big, warm and homely hug from my twin brother Ruairidh. I had just arrived back from spending a month surfing in France. It had been months since we last saw eachother, as he was completing his second phase of training to become a Marine Engineer in the Royal Navy. I felt whole and complete again, my best pal was back. He had changed since the last time I saw him, more muscle definition,his skin more sunkissed, his smile was fuller, he seemed taller and beaming with confidence. Ruairidh was always a shy and humble wee lad growing up, considering how incredibly talented he was, particularly in sports and academics. He really pushed me to my best growing up, I always wanted to win against him in everything, and our healthy rivalry brought out our best grades at school, and helped us push eachother in sports. It was great to see him filled with so much pride and confidence, and he was glowing with happiness. We talked for a couple of hours about the adventures we had got up to since we last saw eachother, our aims, ambitions and goals for the future. It was his last couple of days at home before heading out on his first ever deployment with the Royal Navy. I could feel the excitment radiating from him, he was about to sail around the world and kick start his excellent career as a marine engineer. " I love you meggie, ive missed yi so much yi kane" was the last thing he said to me before going out with his friends that night.
As he left, I made some sandwiches and wrapped them in tin foil for our big cycle we had planned the following day- the 4th of September, 2016. To this day, and for the rest of my life, this date sends shivvers down my spine. That day should have been filled with happiness, cycling in the sunshine and eating fish and chips and running in the sea for a dip with Ruairidh. Instead, it was filled with trauma, horror and excruciating pain.
Ruairidh had a horrific accident that night. He was climbing up a wall and his foot caught a piece of rotten wood and landed on his head. He was rushed into Aberdeen Royal Infirmary and had emergency brain surgery. We were told if he was to ever wake up, he would be severely disabled, blind and would be on a ventillator permanently. I couldnt believe that just 24 hours ago, I was talking to my brother, beaming with pride and joy with how fit and healthy he looked. Now, he was lying there motionless,covered in blood and fitted with many tubes, in an induced coma, where machines were lifting his chest up and down. The noises of the machines, the smell of the room and the sound of crying from my family is something that will never leave. I remember dad and I looking at eachother in the eyes, it was a look of utter disbelief. All of us couldn't believe what had just happened. I had a horrible feeling in my heart that this was the end for Ruairidh. 18 years old, and this was the end of his life. How absolutely shocking and sad.
It was the week before I started my second year of University, I didnt know what to do. My brother was lying there in a coma, and I didnt know whether to continue with my degree or to take time off for a while. I wasnt sure what was going to happen. I felt lonely, confused and felt like giving up. Would I need to drop out and become his carer? Do I go to Uni and carry on and miss valuable time I could be having with him beside his bedside? My head was about to explode. I decided to sign up for an olympic distance triathlon and surfed so much to keep my head focused. If I sat down for more than 10 minutes without doing any exercise my mind would be spinning with what ifs, and whats going to happen.
I decided to go to University. I remember the first class i walked into, I forgot to do my pre lab test for Chemistry. The professor called my name out infront of everyone and said " you haven't done your pre lab test, im afraid we might have to take you off the course". I stood there infront of all these students staring at me, probably all thinking I was a lazy, useless student. I couldnt get any words out of my mouth, instead tears just exploded out my face. Looking back, I was actually in zombie mode. My whole second year of university actually feels like a blur, I have no idea how I managed to get good grades after that.
I remember sitting with my friend Ciara from home, trying to explain to her what was hapenning and I got a phone call from my family. " We have to say goodbye". Ruairidh had developed sepsis,and the fight was over for him. He was kept alive in the coma for 1 week, but unfortunately the damage to his brain was so severe that his body started failing. When he was taken off sedation, I remember playing one of his favourite scottish Runrig songs, and promised him Id complete my degree for him and try my best at everything, and travel the world for him, and he squeezed my hand. I honestly believe that was him using up his last bit of energy to say goodbye to me.
Im so glad I've continued with my degree. It was probably the best decision I ever made. Its still really tough trying to complete it with a heart full of grief, but one more year and It'll be finished. The main thing thats helped me, is the ocean. Surfing has gave me a purpose, after winning the Nordic Championships not long after Ruairidhs death, it gave me a huge boost and a purpose. I feel very fortunate to be able to live right next to the sea, and be able to let out my emotions in the water. I love the feeling of not being able to think about anything else when im in the ocean. From getting radiated by the sunshine, to being battered by sleet, rain, snow, its all part of the excitment. I love open water swimming, freediving, cliff jumping, paddleboarding, and just being in the sea in general.
I was extremely worried about my parents for a while and still do worry, im glad they have their own ways of dealing with their grief. It really gives me a bit of hope seeing them smile, and enjoying time outdoors and with their friends. They have been so incredibly strong and Im very proud of them. My sister too, she has done fantastic. I dont know what id do without her, she has been my rock. She inspires me and motivates me to work hard in everything I do.
My dad has been training for a few months, and he is paddling from sandend to macduff, in memory of Ruairidh. He is raising money for the Royal Navy and Marines Charity. This is a charity Ruaridih used to donate money to out of his pay every month, its a charity which really helped my family during an awful time. They arranged such a special funeral for Ruairidh and continue to provide my family with support. The Navy were truly a second family to Ruairidh, I can't thank them enough for the memories, laughter and even the shit and hard times they provided him with!
I'm so proud of how strong dad has been through everything. I absolutely love surfing with my dad, there is nothing better than seeing him smile when he is on a wave. The last surf I had with him at sandend I had a tear in my eye, watching him smiling and enjoying the waves. Stand up Paddle boarding has kept him so fit, he puts me to shame! Its improved his surfing a lot too.
If anyone has ever been through something similar and wants someone to talk to, please know Im always here for a listen and a chat. The main reason why I love surf instructing so much is seeing people smile after theyve been in the sea and caught some waves, it gives me such a boost seeing other people enjoy the sea. I dont know what id do without it!
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Aug 4, 2018
All the best
Jul 31, 2018
Good luck Rob from Linda and Dougie x
Jul 30, 2018
Can't thank the Royal Navy enough for the support they have given us.
Donation From Bill and Jenny Ewen
Jul 30, 2018
Jul 30, 2018
Donated by M.B Chance BF.324
Jul 28, 2018
A very poignant heart felt memory of your brother has compelled me to send this donation in his memory. I hope to make contact with your dad, my school friend, in October.
Jul 27, 2018
Such heartbreaking but beautiful words Megan! You and your family are truly inspiring and I wish your Dad the best of luck! X
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