MY STORY: 'It should have been a carefree holiday - but now it's my biggest regret'

By Pam Magwaza
10 July 2017

What 17-year-old Marco Viljoen thought would be the vacation of a lifetime turned into one of the most difficult times of his life.

What 17-year-old Marco Viljoen thought would be the vacation of a lifetime turned into one of the most difficult times of his life.

Marco, from Boksburg in Johannesburg, shares his story of loss, grief, and regret:

"I was just a 17-year-old boy, just your average teenager. I was hardly ever home but this time I regretted it.

Last year in December, I was planning to go to my cousin's place for the holidays so on the 23rd, I went home to my parents, Nelia and Johan, to say goodbye and packed my clothes as I was leaving to be with my cousins in Durban.

On the 24th I said my goodbyes to my mom and dad and as usual, my mom was crying and my dad was cheering her up -- I, on the other hand, was so excited I couldn't sleep. And so I went to Durban and it was an amazing few days until the morning of the 26th.

Nelia and Johan Viljoen. PHOTO: Supplied Nelia and Johan Viljoen. PHOTO: Supplied

My aunt, who is also my dad's sister, Annemarie Swanepoel, woke me up and said that my mom and big brother had taken my dad to the hospital. I was upset because didn't know what was wrong with him.

Later that afternoon, I spoke to my mom. 'Dad is fine,' she told me. 'He's back home and sleeping but everything is fine...'

Johan Viljoen was dressed as Santa on his last Christmas eve. PHOTO: Supplied Johan Viljoen was dressed as Santa on his last Christmas Eve. PHOTO: Supplied

The following morning my aunt woke me up again and told me that my father went to the hospital again. They had performed an emergency operation on him as his colon had burst. The operation was successful, even though he was in a coma after the procedure.

My mom said I should send him a voice note so she could play it to him, even though he was in a coma. I did, but in the end she couldn't play it to him -- the nurses said it would mess around with the machines.

I went to sleep believing everything is going to be fine.

 Johan Viljoen with his family. Johan Viljoen with his family.

The next morning, it was exactly five days since I had left home.

I called my mom and doctors said my dad was doing well. I was relieved, and we spent that day at the beach. But at around five in the afternoon my mom called and said the doctors were saying we should say our last goodbyes...

I didn't know how to feel or what to say... My dad was my everything!

At that moment I was helpless I never knew that on the 23rd I would say my last goodbye to my dad.

At 6 pm on the 28 December, my dad died as a result of septicemia without me saying my last goodbye to my hero.

It felt so unreal I didn't know how to feel. His funeral was on the 6 January and his 44th birthday was on the 8th so it was the worst time of our lives.

He was my superhero, my everything. I still feel so empty without him and that I never got to say goodbye haunts me till today.

My family was devastated by my father's sudden death and how fast he was taken away from us. If it wasn't for family, friends and God I don't know where I would have been today."

This story was submitted to YOU and has been minimally edited. Do you have a story to tell? Send an email to Pam.Magwaza@you.co.za.

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