Tomorrow May Never Come

Updated: Jun 26, 2020

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| This is the 366th story of Our Life Logs |

I was born in 1980 and brought up on a farm in Limavady, Northern Ireland. As the oldest, I had five brothers and sisters I looked after and took on many of the chores. Simple routines on a farm had me dreaming of life beyond our vast fields. I decided at a young age that I would love to travel the world someday.

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Finally, in 2002, after spending a few years working on the family farm and part-time in a café, I realized that I needed to stop waiting around for an adventure to fit into my schedule. I needed just go out and do it. I applied for a working holiday visa to New Zealand.

I was buzzing from the moment I got the visa to the moment I landed in the breathtaking New Zealand. From the cascading beaches to the snow-capped mountains, I was enraptured by this new place.

Me (left) with a friend in Paihia, North Island, New Zealand.Mary with Friend in Paihia.JPG
Me (left) with a friend in Paihia, North Island, New Zealand.

But most of all, I was enchanted by the people. I quickly made friends and spent my free time at a local pub named Frankie’s. It was there that I met a captivating Kiwi man named Dan, who was a kayak instructor. He was blond and cute with a cheeky grin. We started a holiday romance that lasted two months. In the time we had together, I learned so much about him. He always had a story or something funny to tell. I loved sailing with him on his boat as we explored the coast and islands around the bay. He was incredibly romantic and often took me out for picnics on deserted beaches.

What I had with Dan was special, but I knew that this small town in New Zealand couldn’t be my last stop. After all, I couldn’t halt my adventure that had just begun! Eventually, I left to see the rest of the country and continued my quest of seeing the world. But I never forgot Dan.

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After a year of travel, I returned to Ireland in 2003 and threw myself into running the family farm with my two brothers. I fell back into the habit of waiting for life and adventure to work with my schedule. I wanted to keep traveling, but the money wasn’t there.

In the years of saving, I started to breed and train sheepdogs for competitions, while I worked a variety of shop, café and office jobs. During that time, I also got married but within five years, I discovered we weren’t meant to be and got divorced.

Years like this passed, me going through life in Northern Ireland keeping busy, but still craving another adventure. I wanted to go somewhere new, but I also found myself wondering what had changed since I’d last visited New Zealand. Was Frankie’s still there? Did Dan ever think of me? Were the beaches as beautiful as ever? I buckled down even more to save money.

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Tomorrow came and so did my next adventure in 2012. I packed my bags and headed for Australia. From the arid deserts to the expansive grasslands, I explored the country for a few months. Then, I made my next move. I just couldn’t resist a visit to New Zealand. It wasn’t that far off, and I was excited to revisit places I’d been to and meet up with some friends. Most of all, I was secretly hoping that I would see Dan again. But my hopes weren’t too high. It had been 10 years after all! He had probably moved on. But in my heart, I prayed that he hadn’t and that I could see his cheeky grin once more.

I apprehensively entered Frankie’s. The small dingy pub looked almost the same as it did 10 years ago. The bar was crowded, and I couldn’t see anyone I recognized. After visiting for a bit, I got up to leave. Of course, Dan isn’t here. I thought. Why would he be?

Just then, Dan entered the bar. He was dressed casually in shorts and a t-shirt; his scruffy blond hair was sticking out in all directions, and a cheeky grin appeared on his face. We recognized each other straight away, and I felt the same strong connection we had a decade ago. 

We sat together all night, reminiscing about the past, about our time together. It was like we had never been apart. We spoke about my life in Ireland and about his kayaking business and life in Paihia; filling in the past 10 years of our lives. Just like that, we were connected once more.

Dan fishing.
Dan fishing.
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The following weeks passed in a blur, we spent as much time as possible together, becoming almost inseparable. We explored the local beaches, caves and bays and went to Frankie’s every Wednesday for the open mic night. Sadly, after almost three months, my visa was coming to an end. I didn’t want to leave Dan, so I started thinking up ways to extend my stay. I wound up making a deal with the hostel owner to let me do some cleaning for free accommodation, and I was thrilled to be staying!

I had expected Dan to be pleased with this news too, but he seemed disinterested. The days following my news, Dan seemed distracted and unusually grumpy. I began to wonder whether I was being stupid, that perhaps it had all been a holiday romance after all. But I couldn’t just leave New Zealand and forget about Dan. I loved him. I decided to tell Dan about my feelings. Fate had brought us together 10 years ago, and now we were here again. I know it sounds cheesy, but I felt like we were soulmates. Like we were meant to be together.

I was left disappointed by his reply. He told me he needed some space and that he felt like our relationship was moving too fast. I could tell by his demeanor that it was more than just needing space, that there was something he wasn’t telling me. When he refused to tell me anything more, we argued and Dan stormed off, saying that he needed time to think things over. He promised to call the next day.

As I watched him walk away, a lump caught in my throat. He’s just being stubborn, I thought. But when I didn’t hear from him for a couple of days, I began to worry.

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The sky seemed to darken, echoing my mood. The hostel was unusually busy, everyone had been driven inside by the blustery weather. We started playing a game of cards, and someone turned on the TV. Suddenly the camera panned across Paihia’s main beach. The room fell silent as everyone’s attention was drawn towards the screen. Someone was missing at sea.