There are a lot of good things about this foreign service career; you get to travel the world, you get to meet interesting people, you get to help people in small ways that can make a big difference. But today I ran smack into a really stark downside to this career and no matter what kind of spin you put on it, it sucks. Sometimes you really miss your family. Sometimes you miss them so much, your insides hurt and your head aches and your heart breaks. There are times you cannot see your family when you want to. This is especially difficult when big life changes happen to the people you love and you cannot be there to help them or share what they are going through. It's definitely a huge sacrifice to serve your country while being inhibited from serving your family. It's a choice I always knew was there, but I pushed it away and tried not to think about it.
My Dad got sick about 4 months ago. My Dad has been healthy his entire life. He worked several jobs when I was young to make ends meet, volunteered for over 25 years on the Rescue Squad, built all our Christmas presents out of oak and took care of my Mom and the rest of us, including the grandkids, whenever a car broke down or someone needed help moving or lifting or hauling. He drove cross country from Minnesota to Arizona every year for 10 years so he and my Mom could spend the winter months away from the snow and enjoy the sunshine. My Dad was indestructible until he got sick. Now, we talk on the phone every night so I can see how he's doing and what he's eating and hear his voice. But it's not the same as being there. I am so glad for the closeness of our calls because it's giving us a chance to share time with each other. I know calling is the best option we can arrange for the moment, but I can't wait to get there and see him and my Mom in person.
And then there is my daughter, Angela, who is having her first baby in about 7 weeks. My first grandchild is about to be born and I have not yet had the chance to see my beautiful daughter pregnant. Yes, we skype and yes I get to see her happy glow, but oh how I wish I could give her a hug and pat her growing belly and share the special joy that binds a mother and daughter together during this milestone of life. We have had some lovely talks about pregnancy and birthing and parenting and we have even had some great moments remembering her childhood. But I still can't wait to get there and see her in person.
I'm planning a visit home soon because life is filled with priorities and being overseas reminds you what is important in life, and the people you love are at the top of the list. Price of a plane ticket home? About $1100. Being with family? Priceless. Pick up the phone and call someone you love, or better yet, if they are close by--give them a hug.