Family reunion cut short by tragedy

They were meant to be six of the happiest weeks of their lives.

After a lifetime apart, two sisters from opposite sides of the world were finally able to meet in person.

But after only one day together, they were torn apart again by some tragic news.

Susanne Frost, of Chedgrave, and Angela Hudson, from Australia, did not even realise each other existed until a few years ago.

The half-sisters share the same mother, but both were put up for adoption at an early age. Just before their mother died, Susanne was told about her half-sister and, at the funeral two years ago, was able to get a contact for her.

Susanne, 60, emailed Angela, 63, and after talking on the phone and Facebook, the two arranged a meeting to coincide with Susanne's 60th birthday.

However, within a day of arriving in the UK, Angela received a phone call from Australia with the news that her son had died, and she had to return home.

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Susanne, who was injured in a car accident a week ago and was made redundant two weeks ago, saw her own son die 20 years ago.

Susanne was adopted at the age of two, but about 30 years ago started researching her history.

'I traced my family when in my early 30s and have met other siblings, but my birth mother admitted that she had another daughter adopted before me,' she said.

The two have different fathers but while their other half-brothers and sisters were brought up together, they were the only two adopted.

Susanne said: 'I got her email address from other relatives at the funeral.

'She was delighted, as she knew about me but didn't have a way to contact me.'

Angela has had health problems but saved up with her partner, Brian, so that they could both head to England for Susanne's 60th birthday.

'There was a full six-week itinerary; we were going to go to the lakes and meet other siblings,' said Susanne. 'But in the evening we had a phone call from the police who had been trying to contact her in Australia. Her son had slipped in the shower, banged his head and died. She hadn't even been with me 24 hours at that point; it actually happened on my 60th birthday.'

Six days before, Susanne had her car written off in an accident that had left her injured when her airbag did not go off. Two weeks before that she had been made redundant from her job as a social worker with Norfolk County Council.

'It was just a long catalogue of disasters,' she said. 'Which was why I thought it was a lovely thing. We knew tough times were coming so to have a few weeks with my sister would have been a Godsend, but obviously it can't be.'

The news brought back painful memories for Susanne, who lost her two-and-a-half-year-old son, Peter Frost, 20 years ago in a hit-and-run.

'The car accident a week before had set me off; I'm not quite sure what the stars are doing at the moment,' she said. 'I thought I was having a heart attack, when the news came'

It was a complete change in emotions for the pair, who had experienced the joy of the reunion just hours beforehand. Susanne explained how she had let a spontaneous scream of joy when they met at the bus station the previous evening.

'A lot of people said before she arrived 'you must be excited and nervous', but when she stepped off the coach it was almost like we'd always been together,' she said.

Susanne said the two were so in tune with each other that it felt like they were twins from opposite sides of the world.

'I just felt complete. I felt at peace, at home and a sense of identity and belonging for the first time in my life. A polarisation to what happened,' she said.

Angela encouraged Susanne to go ahead with her 60th party, but unfortunately she will now not be able to meet Susanne's three surviving sons and three grandchildren.

They hope that fortunes will change to allow them to be able to afford to try to meet again next year.

Susanne said: 'If we could meet the same time next year, that is the prayer.

'I hope somehow we might be able to do it.'

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