A message from a fellow traveler who is following my blog, asked:
“How are you holding up emotionally? I wonder how long we can be away from all that is familiar with friends/family/familiar spots, etc., before a sense of longing may [over]come?…”
After typing a rather long response for a Messenger message, I realized I had just written my next Blog post, so here, essentially, are my thoughts about that.
Before I left the U.S., I said to everyone, “I know there may come a time when I ‘hit the wall’, when I am suddenly feeling sad and missing « home » and « family » and « friends » and wonder, ‘what have I done?’” Some have told me this happens around the 6 month mark. So, although I’ve only been here 4 months, I have to say I haven’t had the tiniest speck of such sadness or concern. Maybe it’s because I have spent my whole life (or 50 years of it) wanting this; maybe it’s because I’m pretty fluent in French; maybe it’s because I had connections here already; maybe it’s because I’m living in a beautiful, luxurious apartment the likes of which I probably won’t have again; and maybe there’s still time for me to hit the wall. But I don’t think so. I think I am truly happier here than I’ve ever been anywhere, and feel the most at home I’ve ever felt. My heart feels finally where it belongs (« home is where the heart is »), and so far, no pangs of regret.
Now, I must say that I do miss my daughters. They have been for me the reason I want to live as long as possible. I want to see them grow and flourish and have good lives, and how that will manifest. My great sadness is for my eldest, who, although she is doing well, has an incurable disease that could shorten her life by many years…Cystic Fibrosis. Since she was diagnosed at 16, I have lived much of my life never wanting to be too far from her for fear of missing out on precious time. However, she is doing well, great strides are being made all the time, and I truly feel she will be around for a long time to come (she is 35…way older than many who have CF live to be). With FaceTime, I “see” her more often than I did when I was home, and we have enjoyed more real time closeness since I’ve been here!! I still miss her terribly, and will know if the time is ever right for me to return to be closer to her. My younger daughter and I are connected in our hearts, and I can still see her feisty little scrunched up face the minute she was born which said, “Watch out world, and Mom, I’m going to challenge you every step of the way!”….and she has, and we have weathered every storm, which, hard as they have been, have taught me much and strengthened my love and determination for us to find our way through them. She is strong and creative and has a soft interior that is full of love to give and promises to fulfill. We have not lived in the same city for many years, so me being in France is not putting more physical distance between us. I am hoping for visits from her while I am here.
As for friends, I love them all in special and unique ways, and some have been like sisters to me. They will always be in my life and heart, and sometimes we need to acknowledge shifts in the landscape of our life and move into new phases of those friendships. For some, that will be sad, and for me, it is how I have always handled people moving away, or being out of touch, or our lives changing in ways that create big differences between us. Like the old song I used to sing in Brownies goes, “Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold!” I know that when I see them again, we’ll pick right up where we left off. And for family members, it is the same. Family bonds are always there. Family is the undergirding of our lives, and while we may find ourselves separated from them for various reasons, they are unique and unlike any other connections – the expression “blood is thicker than water” resonates for me that way. My sister and I have lived in different parts of the east coast for most of the last 40 years! We see each other only about twice a year at Christmas and in the summer, and the rest of the time, we burn up the phone lines, and since being here, use FaceTime often. She will be coming in the spring to visit and get a taste of life in France as she’s never been here. Our relationship is not one of physical presence, AND it is one of “Presence” for sure.
I love how questions from people I don’t even know very well can provoke a stream of consciousness that floats to the surface and flows onto the page. Thank you dear reader for yours, and if you read this, I hope it was helpful. I hope, for all you readers, that something I write illuminates a dark corner of your mind and becomes of service.