Something I didn’t prepare for
One of the things that you don’t think about when you decide to move to the other side of the world is what will happen when a family member is ill – at least I didn’t think about it.
About two years ago, my uncle was diagnosed with cancer. However, with chemo, he seemed to have beat it as were the updates that I was given via email, Facebook, and phone calls. When I visited the States last, he seemed to be doing well. Then early this year, we were making plans to go back to NJ sometime in September. I checked the flights around April and yes September was going to be the time because the fares were more affordable but we didn’t have the money to book so we figured we would wait until we got our tax return back. Shortly after, we were told that my uncle’s cancer had spread and that he had less than 6 months to live. I quickly checked the fares again and the cost had nearly doubled. Nearly every day I checked, hoping for a break. Hoping that there would be an astronomical sale and we could put the cost onto the credit card and worry about it later. As I received updates on my uncle’s health deteriorating, I frantically searched VAustralia, Qantas, Delta, and all the other international airlines to no avail. During this time, other family members began suffering health problems including my mother who had heart failure and needed to have a bypass. I was desperate to get home but the airlines were against me going by having increased their fares. While we got a decent tax return, it wasn’t enough, plus, we had car repairs and other living expenses that needed to be taken care of as well.
September came and went and we never made it back home. Then the dreaded day came.
It was exactly a month ago today. My uncle Steve, who was more like a brother to me, died. I was devastated. While I was able to say goodbye to him on the phone and tell him that I loved him, I didn’t get to see him and he didn’t get to see me or the kids. The guilt nearly ate me up alive. I beat myself up by telling myself that I should have been there. I should have been prepared but I wasn’t. I never thought about what would happen once I moved and close family and friends became sick and what that would mean. I’ve known people who have died but I’ve never had a close family death so it never crossed my mind. I took it for granted that people do get sick, age, and die and that I won’t be able to be there all the time because I decided to live not only in another country but on the other side of the world.
I come from a large family and while they truly get on my nerves most of the time, I love them more than words could describe. And because I come from a large family, a realization hit me. I will not be there when they’re sick…when they get bad news, like cancer…when they die. I won’t be able to sit at every hospital bedside and offer words of comfort. I won’t make it to every funeral. So while I mourn my uncle’s passing, I prematurely mourn my living loved ones eventual passing as well.
But what can I do?
I now call Australia home and I do not foresee a move back to the US and even so, my husband and children would be in the same position I’m in by not being able to be with their Australian family, if we were to move back. So I ask again what can I do? What can anyone do who is in the same situation – living far away from many of their loved ones? I suppose, the first thing to do is, we must start saving so we could visit as often as we can. We must also have an emergency travel fund in which we could tap when in need. In the meantime, we must talk to our loved ones often. Tell them what they mean to us. Send pictures, videos, emails, letters, cards, whatever, and do it often. Don’t wait for bad news to call that person you’ve been meaning to. Do it now. Don’t wait because you never know if tomorrow will be the day you get a call at 5am that it’s too late, you can’t go home…your beloved uncle has died.
Something I didn’t prepare for