The joy of finding some direction on Karta’s future has been swept away beneath a wave of grief.

Karta didn’t pass the Kent Test. Although he hit the pass mark required, he was a few points below where he needed to be in the English part of the exam. That alone was enough to fail.

Understandably, Karta was upset. He was upset because most of his friends, that had also sat the test, had passed. A pass meant it was time to celebrate, time to choose a school, time to talk with friends to find out where they wanted to go and dreams of the future began to bloom.

Not for Karta. Instead, he felt like a failure. Missing out by the narrowest of margins was a blow for our son. To be crushed like that, so early into the start of the new school year was very hard on him. It was hard for us as parents too.

But, there was a chance that we could mount a successful appeal, a second chance to obtain a place at one of the local grammars. The only problem was that it would take several months for the process to be completed and only at the end of that process, a full nine months later, we would find out if things had swung back in our favour.

Nine, frustrating months!

I was nervous as I sat and stared at the envelope sitting on the table in front of me. This was it, the outcome of the appeal, the final decision about whether our son could attend a grammar school and change the course of his life.

I opened the letter and swallowed hard as I unfolded it. Our appeal was a success, Karta would now be going to a grammar school.

The letter I then wrote to confirm the offer of a place was hand delivered to the school. The following day a confirmation letter and welcome pack arrived, and we set about preparing for the move to “big school” in September.

The next week, on a Tuesday morning the Black Dog came crashing into my life, and upon its back came bad news. A telephone call from a relative explained that my Grandmother had passed away suddenly earlier that morning.

I felt numb. I still feel numb. Alone with Karta in the room, I thanked my Aunt for the call and put down the phone. “Nan’s gone”, I thought. What happens now? What do I do? Shit.

Karta could see that something was wrong. I sat him down and told him what had happened. We sat on the sofa, holding each other tightly. The black dog padded around in my mind for the rest of the day. What the fuck?

There was a flurry of text messages and phone calls throughout the day, but by the next day, that flurry had dwindled to nothing. By the weekend, I had no more information. No one had called to see if I was okay, or to let me know what was going to happen next.

Now it’s the following Thursday, the black dog is still lurking in the shadows, I can feel him, but I’m not going to let him drag me down.

There will be a funeral, and I will say my goodbyes.

The school holidays start next week. Karta’s last week at the school he’s attended for the last six years, is filled with performances, discos and talent shows. It’s a week-long celebration of his and his classmates time at the school.

A fond farewell as the children go their separate ways and start the next chapter of their lives. For now, I’m focussing on that and adding the final touches to our holiday plans.

A walk in the mountains is good medicine. It will give me time to work a few things out. I don’t want to get too ahead of myself, but suffice it to say, I need to look deep within my soul and finally work out what I want to do with the rest of my life. I need to find that “thing” that eludes me, that “thing” that I do, the man that I am.

Until next time, adieu!