Relief mixed with grief

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Home at last . . . Kasey DeManser and dog Spice relax at home together in isolation yesterday, after Kasey finally made it home from Australia on Sunday. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

After a stressful few days trying to pin down flights from Brisbane, Kasey DeManser had mixed emotions when she finally touched down in Dunedin.

There was relief to have made it home, but also grief at having to leave her elderly parents behind, and sadness on the part of Virgin Australia staff.

Kasey (53), who is my oldest friend – we grew up together in Tauranga – Brisbane with her mum and dad, Trish and Campbell DeManser, who are both in their 80s.

As the Covid-19 pandemic gathered pace, and Australia began to ramp up restrictions, the behaviour of some Australians — particularly panic buying at supermarkets — was astonishing to see, she said.

“I went to the supermarket to try and get a few essentials for Trish and Campbell, and there were people all squeezing together, fighting over the food.

“It was a totally irrational reaction – there was no social distancing at all.

“Since I wasn’t prepared to be physically pushed around, I had to leave it and go home.”

Then the struggle to make it home to Dunedin began, after Kasey’s booked flight on March 15 was cancelled by Virgin Australia.

Securing a seat on the last direct Virgin Australia flight from Brisbane to Dunedin, last Sunday, came with mixed feelings.

“While I was relieved, there was grief at leaving my parents behind, and knowing that I wouldn’t be able to go back if something went wrong for them.”

Brisbane Airport was virtually deserted, and the staff were a mixture of “miserable and resigned”, Kasey said.

Along with many other airlines, including Air New Zealand, Virgin Australia has made severe cuts to its workforce in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sunday’s flight home was quiet, with plenty of spacing between seats, and the cabin crew doing their best to make travellers comfortable.

Check-in terminals were empty at Brisbane Airport on Sunday afternoon. The flight board showed mainly cancellations.

“When we landed, the cabin crew made a heartfelt announcement, saying how much they had loved servicing that route for the past few years.

“They also told everyone to be strong

“I felt very sorry for them.”

Now in isolation at home in Dunedin, with the company of her 14-year-old dog Spice, Kasey is recovering from the emotional roller coaster of the past month.

A medical laboratory scientist, Kasey heartily endorses the Government’s Level 4 restrictions to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

“The more we do what we are told to do, and if we don’t take it for granted and don’t overreact, we will all be the better for it.

“We are all in this together.”