Alert: this will not be happy and upbeat. If you need optimistic Jeannette-ness, please click on a different link. You have been warned.
I’ve lived abroad for the majority of my adult life–well the post-college adult life. It’s been awesome and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. But it isn’t all visiting ancient ruins or drinking exotic booze with new people. One of the hardest parts of living abroad is being so far from the people I love. And I just had that brought home to me in the worst way.
Last month, I found out that my grandmother was dying. They were talking in terms of days, maybe weeks. And I couldn’t get home in time. I’m still wondering if I did the right thing, if I should have, could have found a way to get there and say goodbye in person.
Even now, I am thinking of all the justifications that I used, how very far away it is, how I didn’t even think I could make it in time, that it might all be for nothing, etc…Like that it takes over 24 hours, MINIMUM get from Busan, South Korea to Southern Oregon. My mind keeps repeating this and other facts. It keeps running in circles, asking if I could have done something differently. Did I make the right choice?
This is the trade-off for being an ex-pat. This is how it works when there’s an ocean between you and your family. I’ve seen it happen again and again to my friends.
So I’m writing this. Because it’s very hard. It’s heartbreaking and there’s never an easy answer to it. But I think it helps to know that you’re not alone in feeling this pain.
It sucks when you can’t get home in time. It really and truly sucks.
There are no words to make the sense of loss go away. There’s no way to stop missing her. So I keep going, working and spending time with the wonderful new friends I’ve made in Busan. I talk to my family when I can, and I remember her.
I miss her.