Life can be a struggle. Being an expat can be a bigger struggle. Recently, I’ve learned a big, heartbreaking lesson…never wait.
I’m sharing this story with you, not because I want you to feel bad or sad for me. I’m sharing it for the same reason I share a lot of things, I want you to learn from my journey.
I don’t get back to the U.S. often but I was supposed to visit in the spring, then a huge storm decided to hit Europe right when I wanted to leave and caused airports to shut down. It was a bit of a mess around here so I had to scramble to figure out when would make the most sense to plan another trip.
Working full-time can be such an amazing thing — regular paychecks, vacation, and security. There is never enough vacation, though! Once I figured out I would be leaving my “regular” job to work for myself, I knew I couldn’t take any more holidays before I left. After researching flights, late August seemed to be the best time to go, financially. Not a big deal, right?
The main reason for me to visit was because people are getting older and I wanted to spend quality time with them before it was too late.
I hate thinking about this stuff. Like, really hate it. I mean, who likes to think about it? Probably nobody. Thinking practically is my thing, and I knew that even though I didn’t want to “deal” with the possibility of death, I have to. We all do.
Within the past 10ish years is when I have really noticed family getting older. I cannot be the only one who thinks like this — that you understand that you get older but those around you (family, teachers, etc.) should stay the same. It’s so irrational and ridiculous. But something in my head stops time for everyone else. Again, I know that’s not true, but somehow it felt it.
Time doesn’t stop
I got lucky. I had a few really good days with my grandfather during my visit. Actually, I got to stay with my grandparents, so I saw him a lot! Then, suddenly, everything changed. Very early one morning, I was trailing the ambulance to the hospital while still in my PJs. This was unexpected.
With my entire family together in a way that was both wonderful and heartbreaking, we said goodbye to a man who did so many amazing things, including always being there for me.
Don’t put it off
I wanted to get a picture of my grandparents and me. I kept putting it off. I never got it.
I guess I figured I was waiting because I knew I had time and I wanted to wait until I looked put together and because I was just chilling with family, I wasn’t really doing the hair and makeup thing. Regret. It’s ridiculous when it’s something so small and you could have easily avoided it.
It was obvious that I needed to get home and see family, but I put it off because of a couple hundred dollars. That, again, seems so stupid now. The problem was, I didn’t want to believe it was possible for anything bad to happen. I didn’t want to think about that…think about that. There’s never enough time.
Am I glad to have been there when it happened? Well, it’s an awful thing to have gone through, but to be there with my family and to help however I could, absolutely.
I am so grateful.
If you feel in your gut that you should (insert action here), then do it.
I got lucky this time that I was able to have some great days and just be around at the right time. I don’t expect that to happen again. I’ll never shut my gut up like that again.
Stay practical. Stay thoughtful about what you feel. Don’t wait.