Precious time

{image via weheartit}

My Google Reader says: 654 unread items. I have no idea when to catch up.
I haven’t spent as little time online as I did in the last 1,5 weeks in forever. I felt somewhat liberated and completely out-of-touch at the same time.
But I wanted to let you know that I am back and that I have a gazillion of good moments to share about my trip to Germany.

Most of my trip seems pretty surreal in retrospect. Like, was I really there?
I guess, it was just the fact that I wasn’t supposed to be in Germany, when I was.
I hadn’t planned to go back before May and the unexpected news of my Granddad’s passing and the last-minute travel arrangements to be there for his funeral simply left my brain lagging behind.
This unexpected time with my family couldn’t have come at a better time, though, and it was most precious. It also reminded me that family is so very important and that you should never delay telling your loved ones how much they mean to you.

Once the funeral was over and the first overwhelming wave of grief subsided, I was able to really enjoy my time back home. I didn’t make any time for friends (besides my best friend in town) while I was there and I apologize for that, but it was important for me to solely focus on my family. On my Dad, who had just lost his Dad. On my Mom, who knows all too well (and for much too long) what it feels like to have lost both her parents. My sister, who was well advanced in her pregnancy at the time and torn between grief and anticipation of the new baby. My little niece Greta, who I hadn’t seen for 6 months and who had already learned so much since then. And my great-aunt, who solely and solidly as a rock is holding the fort as the older generation of our family. I am praying every night that she’ll still be around for a very long time.

A few things that kind of struck me through the whole experience last week were:

  • Even though my Granddad passed away, life goes on. It has never been so evidently clear to me than right now. For some odd reason, I thought that when the first person of our immediate family dies, the world would stop spinning for a while. I’ve lost other relatives before, but none of them were as close to me as my Granddad (or I was too little to understand).
    I keep thinking of my Granddad, sitting in his arm chair in his TV room. It still feels like he’s there (even though I know he’s not and I have been to his house last week, which was very strange and will provide matter for a completely different blog post.) It’s so, so hard to grasp that someone that I’ve known my whole life is not there anymore.
    And still, we go to bed every night and get up  the next day. That’s what my Granddad had planned to do. He went to bed that one night, but he just didn’t get up anymore. It almost doesn’t seem right, if you know what I mean.
  • Grief comes in waves. There were days when I was completely ok, almost cheerful and I kept thinking “San, what’s wrong with you. Your Granddad just died. You don’t have the right to be cheerful”. But I was. I was thankful to be able to be with my family, I was thankful that my Granddad died an easy and painless death. I was thankful for all the happy memories and even though I miss him terribly, I am not really sad anymore. Not sad sad.
    And then, at other times, a memory will hit you out of left field and it will knock the wind right out of you.
  • The older one gets, the more one will be confronted with illness and death.
    That simply frightens me.
  • The older one gets, the more one realizes how important family is in one’s life.
    I don’t mean to sound sappy, but this is just some revelation I had over the last few years. When I moved to the US, I clearly had no idea what this would mean for the long haul.

    Even though I – technically – knew what it meant, namely not being able to see my family on a regular basis, being absent for major events in my family’s life, etc., and even though I had no doubt that the close family bond that already existed could never be destroyed, I didn’t realize until much later that living so far away from your loved ones can really suck. JUST PLAIN SUCK.

That does by no means imply that I am unhappy where I am at or that I regret my decision to live here. I love California, I love my job, I love my life here. But in times likes this, it becomes evidently clear that we can only be in one place at a time and that we ultimately have to make a decision.

  1. glad you are back. John thought you would stay because of your sister and co. You have it much harder than me with my family. Whats your decision (I am taking that from your last sentence)?

    1. No decisions to be made yet. Just food for thought.

  2. “But in times likes this, it becomes evidently clear that we can only be in one place at a time and that we ultimately have to make a decision.”

    I am very very curious now!
    .-= Stefanie´s last blog ..When the Army comes first. =-.

    1. Just food for thought.

  3. I hear you.
    My grandparents passed away when I was 6, 13 and 15. I didn’t really know my mothers Mom as she was ill and I simply was too young when she died.
    My Dads parents I knew, but it was not the typical Grandparents relationship I guess. They have been quite old already, both over 75 when I was born. So yes, it was a loss, but it was not that bad.
    So it’s like you say: there was no loss in the very close family so far for me. And I am simply horrified on the thought that my parents will die.
    I have talked on my Blog about my mother and the situation and it tool me since we know what’s going on (which was in 2006) to finally be able to live with it. And still there are days, sometimes even a week, I am struggling badly.
    I hope when the time is here that I will loose one or even both parents I will be able to go on with life.
    .-= Steffi´s last blog ..New pictures =-.

    1. Yes, Steffi, I remember when you blogged about your Mom and I can so relate. I am terrified of losing my parents as well. I hope that with time we’ll be able to cope better.

  4. I was talking about that with a friend recently. As these expatriots we are all in the same boat. We all get older now, our parents get more frail and we have to deal with some guilt and yet still put our own happiness first. Sometimes it feels selfish, although I know it’s not. It’s just my life’s path.
    My brother once said to me, when we were discussing my father’s health “YOU MOVED FAR AWAY”…..almost like I had that thought process…sure, when I was 20 I thought “WOW, I better go to college far away because my parents will get old and need me but then I am not around to help.” Awful thing to say from him. That’s why I can’t ever talk to him about this stuff because he throws this retardo stuff at me…argh.
    .-= Fab´s last blog ..Protected: So… =-.

    1. This is a seriously f***ed up thing to say of your brother. I am sorry.
      We all need to live our own lives and just because we chose to not stay close to where our family lives doesn’t mean we’re deliberately choosing to “abandon” them. That’s ludicrous.

  5. this is heartwarming and inspiring. thank you for sharing!!

  6. It is difficult. I know last year (today it is 1 year since my own father died), I felt that being 4.5 hours away from my family was very difficult. I can understand how separated you must feel being in CA and so very far from everyone you love (except J)during this time. Sadness mingled with happiness. Yes, it is a strange thing.
    After Katie died I remember being taken to the Mall to buy a dress for the service. My eyes were damaged from the accident and I could not see. I was tired and asked to sit down while everyone raced around buying what they needed for the services.
    I sat there, alone, with blurry vision, and it all seemed so surreal. My life had stopped, but everyone’s life had gone on.
    Eventually it got better and I was able to go forward again, but for a while I just felt sort of stuck.
    I hope everything is okay. Let me know if there is anything I can do.
    .-= Maribeth´s last blog ..Random Dozen =-.

  7. as bad as this may sound: this is (probably the only) one thing that’s “good” about not having any parents any more. besides all the grief that comes in waves (which is absolutely 100% true – even 13 years later…) and the sadness about not having any parent here to see and share my life any more, i am glad i won’t have to watch them get older, more frail and possibly sick and all the rest of it. whether it’d be in the same country or far away. although being that far away would definitely make it so much more difficult…

    i’m glad you got to make the trip and i can’t wait to see you in a few weeks! xoxo
    .-= kim´s last blog ..Protected: perspectives =-.

  8. This made me cry.

  9. For me, death brings a new spirit to life. We all face death. The end of our lives are imminent. When we lose a loved one, it serves as a reminder to live life a little better, to love family and friends a little harder and to do something today you’ve always wanted to do because you just don’t know what tomorrow will bring.

    1. You’re absolutely right, Nilsa. Death does serve as a reminder to cherish life and the people in it.

  10. Welcome back! (Physical location & blogosphere)

    My prayers to you & your family,

    I am happy you are back, though AH! Germany! I miss it there. I have so many questions but I know now isn’t the time to bombard you with them. :)
    .-= Spatzi´s last blog ..Attitude Adjustment =-.

  11. I could not agree more with you about grief coming in waves. One day it’s slamming into you and beating you half to hell and then the next day it’s softer, less painful. I’m glad you made it back and safe and that you got some much needed time with your family, even if the circumstances were less than perfect.
    .-= terra´s last blog ..Spring has sprung & my stupid first-world complaint =-.

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