Living a life like mine, it’s hard to complain. I have a job, an apartment, and people in at least four different countries who would be willing to help me out at the drop of a hat. This is a marked improvement over where I was before I started traveling, and, all things considered, it’s a pretty good way to live.
That being said, living abroad isn’t always fun. It’s certainly not always easy. Before you even set foot on that airplane, you know that you’re going to be missing out on things back home. When I left for Poland, I flew out on the day before my grandfather’s 80th birthday party. I’ve missed two Thanksgivings, one Easter, and soon to be two March Madness tournaments.
Today, I’ll have missed two funerals.
I’m lucky enough to have grown up with three sets of grandparents: my mom’s parents, my dad’s parents, and a couple who ‘took in’ my dad and helped him out when he first moved to Michigan from Ohio. My brother and I grew up calling them Grandma Ginia (short for Virginia) and Grandpa Bob. Last winter, my family buried Grandma Ginia while I was giving lessons in Poland. Today, my family will bury Grandpa Bob while I’m giving lessons in Italy.
Like I said, you know before you leave that you’ll miss things back home. Moreover, everyone back home knows that you’re going to miss things. My family knows, understands, and accepts that I can’t be there for the funeral, but that doesn’t make it any easier on this side of the ocean. My family are hurting, and I can’t be there with them.
Both Grandma Ginia and Grandpa Bob were very supportive of me, especially in my moving around. They both loved that I’m doing what I am. And that’s what I’m left with – a family that loves and respects me for what I am and what I’m doing, and who would support me even though I’ve missed some of the most important goodbyes.