I’ve been struggling with how I wanted to express myself about a tragic event that has recently happened to me and my family.
I am a very private person, but the last two years with encouragement from some very special people at Microsoft and the Humans of IT community, I have started to tell some of my story. It has been a story of struggle, sadness, hope and happiness. Things have really gone from a very dark and gloomy place to a future with endless possibilities.
But what has happened two weeks ago – that has shaken me, affected my kids and really changed our lives.
For some context… the day before “the worst day of my life”, I had just finished my fourth Ignite in Sydney. I had the privilege of speaking twice, once with my friend Vivek from the Window Insider team, and the other with the most amazing Dona Sarkar (I still cannot believe I can call you friend).
Now this Ignite was special – why? Well, this was the first ignite where two things happened.
ONE – I felt for the first time, comfortable doing public speaking… ok I wouldn’t say I’m comfortable, just feeling better that the absolute terror I felt when I first started.
TWO – I felt really REALLY good about ALL my sessions
Looking back at previous MS Ignites, be it “Big Ignite” of 2018 and 2019 or MS Ignite the Tour 2019 in Sydney, there was something with at least one of my sessions that didn’t quite work for me.
So, Ignite the Tour 2020 in Sydney was the first time where I got off stage every time and felt “Yes!!”.
I’m riding high on the buzz of a successful event.
Then, that dreaded phone call. It was the New Zealand police, and they delivered me some terrible news.
My ex-wife had been found deceased at her home.
I am so grateful to my friends Dona and Vivek. These were the only two people at the Sydney event who I told, and they generously supported me for the remainder of the event.
I woke up on 15 February 2020, in a hotel room in Sydney. Knowing that this was going to be the absolute worst day of my life. It’s not often that someone wakes up and has this feeling and knows it to be absolutely true. Many people who talk about the worst day of their life, realise this later in a reflective sense. But knowing that I would be travelling home to Auckland where upon arriving I would have to give this devastating news to two children, two children who have now and forever lost their mother. Yes, this is truly the worst day of my life.
All through that day, my thoughts turned to my kids. How was I going to tell them, how was I going to support them through this grief? The pain was (and still is) unbearable.
I would not wish upon anyone the pain of telling their child or children that their parent has passed away.
I cannot imagine the pain each of them is feeling, and how they are processing this. But I do know that I will be there for them and with them through this and supporting them.
Inge, may you rest in peace. Liam, Ethana… I love you so much.
Much respect to you for sharing this difficult experience Paul. I know your children have an amazing father to help them through this.