The difficulties of being so far from the ones you love

by Carmen Allan-Petale

It has been 10 months since I last saw my parents. For some that’s fine, but for me it’s too long. If we lived in the same city we’d probably see each other once a week and so to go for almost a year without a parental hug is a long time for me.

Me and my dad in sunny Australia

Me and my dad in sunny Australia

We Skype each other every week and I look forward to the one hour (or sometimes longer) chats. Technology has made it so much easier to keep in touch. I remember when I was 19 and went backpacking around Europe for six weeks. The only time I managed to call home is when I fell sick and had to visit a Spanish doctor who spoke no English. Panicked and upset, I scrambled together some change, made for the phone booth and dialled the long distance phone call.

Mum’s words comforted me – for about two minutes until my money ran out.

These days communication technology has improved but the time difference is still a pain. The eight hour gap means I can only Skype my family on the weekend or on my lunch break at work, which isn’t very practical. If something happens and I need to speak to my parents urgently, this can prove difficult. Like when Dave proposed and I had to wait a whole night before sharing the news.

But this is the peril of living overseas.

You’re separated from those you love and it’s difficult. You often miss weddings – you can’t fly back for them all – and when someone you love dies it’s particularly tough.

Me and my mum when we went back to visit nearly a year ago

Me and my mum when we went back to visit nearly a year ago

I wouldn’t give up my travelling lifestyle to be back within short driving distance of my parent’s house but when something bad happens that 24 hour flight time makes them seem forever away. Recently my grandma, who lived in Cape Town, passed away and my mum had to take a last minute flight from Australia to be with her. Thankfully she made it to her bedside in time to say goodbye but it makes you ponder the vast ocean in between me and my family, making me think ‘What if…?’

But you can’t live in fear.

When Dave’s granddad passed away shortly after we moved to the UK, we couldn’t afford to fly back for the funeral. It was heart breaking. But then Dave reflected on his journey and decided his granddad – who loved travelling himself and passed this passion on to Dave – would want him to be out there, exploring the world and living his life. It couldn’t change what had happened but Dave could take comfort in this thought.

Dave with his dad and mum when we met up with them travelling through Italy

Dave with his dad and mum when we met up with them travelling through Italy

Anyway, I’m not going to get too melancholy. The good news is I’ll be seeing my folks today for two weeks, and I CANNOT wait. They’re coming to London and then we’re travelling to Paris and Geneva before skiing for a week in the French Alps. I’m not sure when I’ll see them again after that, so I plan to make the most of every minute.

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