Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Unexpected Events

Long ago, my very good friend Joanne, who is a fellow expat, told me that one of the hardest things about the expat life is that life happens while you are not there.  People you love will marry, have babies and pass away without you being there for these momentous and life changing events.  She was right.

This past weekend my best friend’s husband left this world unexpectedly and I was not there when she called and needed me.  I managed to get on a plane two days later and held her hand through the grueling week of planning and putting him to rest, but my heart breaks over the fact that when I was most needed I was 3,000 miles away, instead of around the corner. 

Being at home was so wonderful and I feel almost guilty for enjoying any moment of my time spent in Houston.  But I must say, as we drove through the gates of our neighborhood and past all of the places that made up the days of my life, my heart was at peace and at home.  To see the faces of all of those I love so much was an unexpected pleasure and I love them even more for being able to smile and even laugh through the tears.  It was one of the hardest weeks of my life.   Leaving broke my heart.  Saying goodbye was devastating and the thought of once again being so far away when they still need me so much bothers me to the depths of my soul.  I wonder if the benefits of this life truly outweigh the price….

Today as I write this I am on the plane headed back to Connecticut where I unceremoniously dumped my children on my mother, who has been my savior through this week, so that I could be  the friend that I have always strived to be.  She has seen the kids through vomit, head lice and separation anxiety and deserves canonization for her work while I was away.  I am blessed to have such a wonderful family.  I will spend the next two weeks making it up to her before I leave them with her for a week’s planned vacation with Chris.  I only wish that I could send my overworked mother on one too.

I will leave you with a thought:

“And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years.”

-          Abraham Lincoln

Make yours count.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

I Pledge Allegiance....

Today is 4th of July, here it is just July fourth.  A semantic difference you might say, but for us on this day it is a difference that is felt deeply.  This is the first fourth in my life that I have not spent on American soil and it is much harder than I thought it would be.  We have discovered that nothing makes a bigger patriot than being an expatriate.

It is difficult to put into words how it feels to be living in a country that is not your own.  Canada is very similar to the US in many ways and I am sure that these feelings would be even more pronounced in many of the other spots around the globe where Chris could be working.  It saddens me that when my children go to school they do not say the Pledge of Allegiance and the flag that flies is not the Stars and Stripes.  I come from a military family, we are born patriotic and I am proud to be an American.  I was blessed to be raised in the greatest country on earth and every day I miss it.  While hospitable and great in it's own right, Canada is not our home and we are but guests.  This experience is teaching us not only to embrace and respect other cultures but to value our own as well.  We take our country and all it has to offer for granted, we forget the fundamental reasons it exists in the first place.  I encourage everyone to take a moment and consider how lucky we are to be American.

That said,  Pledge Allegiance and be proud, be grateful.