After almost 250 days, I finally got to hug my mum
I was one of the thousands of Australians separated from loved ones because of Queensland's hardline border stance.
I was fortunate enough not to miss major milestones like weddings and births and the hardest for many, funerals, but the more than 250 days of separation still hurt.
On Tuesday, I was among the first to get a seat on a flight to Brisbane.
As one of the worst secret-keepers in Australia, it was a tough to maintain the surprise and I almost spilt the beans in the family group chat after a few beers on Monday night.
But I made it to mum and dad's house in Brisbane's north a shade before 11.30am on December 1.
My mum was on the phone to a girlfriend when she opened the door. She was in disbelief, and Annette, I am sorry you two could only have an hour on the phone before I interrupted.
She screamed and shouted and cried as she kept asking me how I did this. It didn't take long to explain to the old chook how easy it is to book flights online.
My older sister Ashleigh was next. Mum laid the groundwork checking via text she could drop by for five minutes.
Once we got the all clear from the boss (my sister Ashleigh, not mum) we loaded up and made the 15 minute journey to her house.
Ashleigh screamed her head off when she saw me and after battling to open her deadlocked door, I could finally give my big sister a hug - something I could never have imagined being so enthusiastic about when I was ten.
My dad Russell was last to the party. Like most days in his retirement, he had been golfing. As he walked into the family home, I popped out from the kitchen catching him red-handed carrying a strawberry and cream doughnut.
I'm not sure whether he was more shocked that I had caught him with pastry or to see his only son.
Scenes like mine have been playing out across Queensland every hour since the border opened. It's naff to say absence makes the heart grow fonder but I can say that in this year it has for the Van Homrighs.
Originally published as After almost 250 days, I finally got to hug my mum