When we started the blogging process, we decided we wanted to post not just about the fun part of the expat experience but also about the challenges.. Some of you know from Facebook or Instagram that our 2018 has gotten off to a rough start. On January 31, Lawson’s mom passed away. He was scheduled to fly home to see her just a week later. Among the hardest parts of the expat experience is experiencing the death of a loved one from a distance. This is the second death of someone dear to us since we have been in Australia. Lawson spoke on the phone with his mom every day and it just so happened that on January 31, he was running a little later than usual and he spoke with her around 9 pm her time. He was able to say goodnight to her. She passed away around 3am that next morning. If you have lost a parent, you have some understanding of the pain my beloved is in. Unfortunately, that pain was compounded by the fact that his siblings planned the visitation/funeral for that weekend even after Lawson had asked for the following weekend. We were unable to get him a flight that would get him there in time. The grief and lack of closure has been incredibly difficult for Lawson. It has taken some time to be able to write this in a blog post. How do you put words to things that don’t make sense? We are still at a loss for words other than to say we humans can be incredibly cruel to one another. The death of a loved one often reveals the best and worst of who we are.
Since Lawson didn’t have the opportunity to speak at her funeral like I did at my parents, I asked Lawson to tell me what he would like for people to know about his mom. Here is what he said: “She always had such a good attitude even when things were difficult. She was an eternal optimist! She had a really sharp mind and loved talking with me about my travels around the world. At, 87 she really took to Facebook and it brought her so much joy to connect with people through that medium this past year. She loved being on this adventure with us. I called her everyday and she would answer “G’Day Mate” and we would have a laugh. She was very much here with us, always asking questions about our day to day life here Down Under. She loved me and accepted me just as I am.”
Grief and stress often impact our bodies in unexpected ways. In Lawson’s case, he has been experiencing some serious stomach issues over the past couple of months. It is hard to see your strong husband who has always had a strong constitution struggle. All is well with his blood work but he is not back to his normal self. Again, grief, betrayal and extreme stress can impact us physically even when we think we are handling things fairly well. Not feeling well when you are in a new country can be scary. In spite of this, our experience navigating the medical system here has been extremely positive so far. The doctors have been excellent and even though we are required to have private health insurance, the cost of health care here in Australia is a fraction of the cost of what it is in the US.
On a far happier note, our youngest daughter turned 16 in early February! Her birthday was just a few days after Lawson lost his mom so it could have been a heavy birthday but Eve is a ray of sunshine and lifted everyone’s spirits with her joyful embrace of sweet 16! We are so lucky to be hers!
A couple of days after her birthday, Lawson and I headed to the States to take care of some business matters It was not the first trip home we had envisioned. It was a terribly stressful couple of weeks of trying to take care of business with Lawson feeling quite unwell. Lawson already had a ticket to go back to Arkansas to visit his mom before her death and he thought about keeping that flight but ultimately decided it would only add more stress and pain. The sheer number of things we had left undone was staggering and then there were all the things to fix with the house. The conversion of one’s primary home to holiday rental management is a tough one. You have to detach in a way that is quite hard for us. After spending four years bringing this home back to life and adding on to her already existing beauty, letting go has been challenging. We love that others are getting to experience her beauty and unique character but sometimes you just miss home!
While we are extremely grateful to be experiencing this adventure with our girls and sweet animals, it is hard to not have a home of our own here in Australia. We are unencumbered but also a bit ungrounded. Being expats is a gift but also full of new challenges. So much of this adventure is learning to navigate a new culture, being open to the wonderful new ways of looking at the world. That is the fun part. Facing painful life events from a distance is doubly challenging.. We are learning as we go, leaning on one another for support! It is an amazing opportunity for us to grow as a family and as individuals. It in no way diminishes the pain of the loss but we do feel like our parents are here in spirit on this adventure with us. We feel their love, their presence. One of Lawson’s favorite poets is Rumi and he says it here so well.
Thank you so much for joining us on this adventure!