Surprised by Grief
We will be moving out of our home and into an Airbnb in 8 weeks.
Gonzalo will be leaving for Spain in 9 weeks.
I will be joining him with the kids and pets in 12 weeks.
The countdown is on.
This family travel sabbatical has been alive in my imagination for a long time, but it seemed like it would never happen. Now it is coming so quickly I wonder how I will possibly be ready on time and on budget. There are closets to de-junk and suitcases to pack and organize. Lists and more lists. Tasks and more tasks. How can I get it all done in 12 weeks?
This is the culmination of over 2 ½ years of planning. This is a big accomplishment and I expected to feel elated and raring to go at this point. Why do I feel such sorrow?
Everything I have read by travel bloggers focuses on how great it all is. Any travel snafus are good for a laugh but there is no real angst or pain revealed in any of this.
Yet this past week has been one of grief. I am leaving my home and a career that I love. Can I really let this go for a season?
I feel clingy and weepy, like a toddler who doesn’t want mom to leave her with the sitter.
My heart hurts and the hurt is of my own making. No one put a gun to my head and said I had to do this. What was I thinking?
We expect joy in dreams fulfilled, not grief, not sorrow. Yet in these gains, there is a loss. With new life, a small death. Big dreams require deep courage.
I will miss my car and the freedom and independence it represents. I will miss our doctors and our veterinarian. At home, I enjoy the convenience of doing so many transactions online in a familiar currency. I have my favorite grocery stores and know where to go for the best prices on whatever we need to buy. The kids’ schools and their music teachers have also brought such joy into our lives.
I will miss my yard. Who will tend my vegetable garden and prune the rose bushes? I love to cook and have a well-equipped and spacious kitchen, a comfortable home, and a fireplace. Fluffy pillows and comfortable bedding. We live in a nicely manicured, green, park-like environment with blue skies and fluffy white clouds. We have four lovely seasons and a just-right sized city to enjoy.
I am leaving behind the good, the comfortable and the predictable. Most importantly, I am leaving behind people who I know and love and will be unable to hug for a very long time. The sense of loss and the sorrow of all those goodbyes is very real.
I know the step I am taking is one that will be enriching and will fundamentally change me and the way in which I view my place in the world. While I welcome the personal growth, I also fear what it might churn up inside of me. The ugly places I don’t want to face. Small-mindedness, ignorance, prejudice, arrogance. Who knows what else is lurking in the depths?
While I may bravely say I am embracing the change and the challenges to come, it all seems gloomy and sorrow filled at the moment. It isn’t like I am just changing one or two things in life. I will be changing everything all at once.
I will be living in military time and in the metric system. I will pay in dollars for bills that continue back home but in euros for everything there. I understand much in Latin American Spanish, but Spanish is very different in Spain.
I will have to figure out how to do every blessed thing that I can do without thought or effort here. It will all seem very foreign to me but it is I who will be the foreigner.
Snap out of this gloom and doom-fest! I will not be in quarantine or in solitary confinement. I will be in Europe! With social media, email and cell phones, I can stay in touch. Life will carry on and time will pass, probably too quickly. When we return to the United States, we will happily reconnect with the special people in our lives.
Wherever I am, I will appreciate fully the beautiful life that I have in this moment. When the waves of grief rush over me, I will not fight but will swim with the tide. I will trust the waves that carry me away will bring me safely home next year.
Hello, change, growth, and challenge. Hello, sorrow and loss.
I will embrace you as my friends because of the goodness you will bring into my life.