Most days, I wake up and feel immediately thankful for my home, my life, and the interesting things that lie ahead. I love living in a new country, I love Europe, and I love that we are doing something very intentional and memorable by choosing to live overseas. Sure, it hasn’t been easy to get to this point, but I think Jeff and I would do it all over again. We feel like most of the hardest parts are behind us, and now we can start relaxing into our present situation, and can breathe much easier and enjoy everything around us.
Most days, I am very glad that we chose to live unconventionally. But not today. It seems a little soon for another confession, but it helps to write it out. Tomorrow, I am going to the hospital for knee surgery (an ACL reconstruction, for those that are interested in those sorts of things.) I have done this before– about eight years ago– and I have to say, I don’t have fond memories of the recovery. However, looking back now, I see the sweetness of going through that experience within a community. I sustained the original injury while with the a group of PTs that I was working with at the time, and they diagnosed the injury, helped me through the process of getting it taken care of, and did my rehab PT sessions. After the surgery, I stayed with close girlfriends who didn’t have stairs in their house, and they regularly stopped in to check on me, get me something to eat, etc. There were flowers, phone calls, and meals to help cheer and support me. A friend who lived nearby had gotten a terrible case of poison oak, and was in agony. He came over a few times to eat ice cream and watch movies, both of us pretty miserable, but appreciating the proverbial company. I did not enjoy that time in my life, but having friends stop in on me, bringing food or flowers, made all the difference, and I felt cared for during a tough time.
Today has been one of those days, my mind clouded with doubts about the choices we’ve made. I know this is the worst part, the anticipation– by this time tomorrow, I will be all loopy on pain meds, and I’m sure things will go fine for us once I come home on Tuesday. But from here, I can’t help but feel the absence of community. Jeff has to work after he drops me off at the hospital and Amelia off at school, so there won’t be a familiar face when I wake up after the surgery. He will take some days off during the week, and I am so glad that he can be home for me, but we are kind of on our own as a family. No meals will be delivered, no visitors, no one popping by to see if we need any laundry done. I know that sort of support system will come in time, but I wish we had those relationships and sense of belonging now, when it would make something difficult that much more bearable.
Living far away from loved ones is never really easy, but it is particularly hard around the holidays; it’s hard when people you love have babies, get married, get ill, or need help moving and you can’t be there for them; it is hard when you want to have everyone over to celebrate your new home; it is really, really hard when you feel like you actually need them in major life events.
I have received a lot of nice comments about my life, that it is so amazing, so fun, so cool. Yes, it is all of those things. And, it is also stressful, hard, and… so lonely. I know that it won’t always be, though. And, even in this moment of weakness, I believe I would choose it all over again. But I want to tell the whole story, not just the best parts. Being able to just tell you about it helps. So, thank you. And please send some healing thoughts and prayers over here, OK? Movie recommendations are also welcome.