The worst, absolute worst thing about being an expat is being far away from ‘home’ and loved ones when something terrible happens (actually this is the worst thing for anybody that is far away from home and you don’t have to be an expat for that).
A couple of weeks ago a family member in Dublin became ill. I struggled with whether or not I should go over and after much soul searching and many discussions with my mother, we decided that I would stay put while she left her vacation in Ecuador early and flew straight on to Ireland without even stopping home in Texas first (thankfully the Irish weather has been mild enough that her Ecuadorian clothes haven’t been too inappropriate).
She’s been in Dublin a little over a week now and my family member is on the mend. After a very stressful few days I started to feel OK, safe, and I let my guard down knowing that my family member was doing better and my mother was there handling the situation. And that’s when the other shoe dropped.
I woke up yesterday to an email letting me know that my mother’s best friend, Sandy, had passed away and could I let her know. That awful sense of dread and panic ripped through me as I called my Aunt’s, waking everyone up. It was early but I knew that I had to be the one to tell my mother. I couldn’t let her find out that her best friend had passed via email or heaven forbid, a Facebook post.
There’s my poor mother, exhausted from the traveling and non-stop hospital and doctor visits, finding out that her best friend all the way back in Texas passed away and she wasn’t there. That sucks. I know that’s not an eloquent way to put it, but it sucks, plain and simple.
And here’s me. Sandy was my friend too, more than that, she was family. It was her husband (my mother’s old boss) who was responsible for our New York to Texas move. It was her son who my twelve year old self had a massive crush on. It was her daughter who used to date my brother, who would holiday with us in Dublin, and who eventually married my ex-fiance (we like to keep it in the family).
But it was Sandy who would pick me up after school so we could sneak off for silver dollar pancakes at IHOP. It was Sandy who was there for me when my mom and step-dad split up. It was Sandy who drove from Texas to New York with my mother to help out when my father was in a coma. And it was Sandy who taught me the important things in life, like that it is completely possible to host a dinner party without cooking a single scrap of food because that’s what friends are for, that vodka tonics always taste better with limes, that nude colored bras look better under white shirts than white ones do, and that a lady is never in a bar at closing time because it’s tacky.
It was Sandy who has been clipping out articles from the San Antonio Express News that she thought I’d like and mailing them to me. It was Sandy who read every blog post I ever wrote and would email to let me know if she liked it or not (and trust me, if she didn’t like a post, a photo, or a new header or something, I would hear about it).
So here I am, alone in my house, pacing about, not sure what to do with myself, because when you’re far away from home when something like this happens that’s what you do. You walk about and you wring your hands, have random fits of shouting and crying because you don’t know what to do, because there’s nothing you can do. You try to focus, you try to go about your normal routine, but you can’t and it sucks. You feel helpless and lost and it sucks.
P.S. Wow, that was a downer. Over six hundred posts on this blog and I can count on one hand the number of them that have been downers, but sometimes a girl has gotta vent. Thanks for being my ventees. (If I’m the venter, then you’re the ventee… get it it?)