I’m a long-distance dad so Covid was terrible – but it helped me let go of my guilt

I worried so much about not seeing my son, who lives in Canada, during Covid, but then I realised that he was fine – and being very well looked after

Getting to Canada from the UK in August 2020 was a faff, as you might expect mid-pandemic. There was lots of stress – tests and isolation, rules, regulations and forms. I was doing the preparations at my mum’s. She could see I was getting upset and insisted on taking over, assuming I was being pathetic. Within five minutes, she had lost it as well. Emotions were high in the days before I flew. This wasn’t just a holiday, but my chance – amid such uncertainty and sadness – to spend precious time with Julian, my only son.

He’s the best and most significant thing that has ever happened to me. He was also very much an unexpected surprise. I had a short relationship with his mum; we parted ways on great terms. Then one day out of the blue I got a call from North Korea, where she was working. She was pregnant. I was based in England, and she lived in Canada. We were both medical emergency aid workers at the time and had met while responding to a cyclone in Burma. It was always going to be complicated, but we decided to make it work.

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