The idea of jet setting is whimsical. We think of flying off into the sunset and landing in the most ideal place… the crystal clear waters of the Maldives. Maybe the snowy mountains of the Dolomites. For me, it was the white sands of the Sunshine Coast.
After original visiting this little town when I was in university, I knew I was going to come back and live here. After doing a stint in Europe and a series of (fortunate) events, I ended up back here, and it was nothing short of a dream fulfilled.
You see, I grew up in a family that travelled. And I’m not talking about mini road trip travelling (although we have done our share of those). I am talking, jump on a plane and leave the country travel. It’s one of the things I am incredibly grateful that my parents prioritised and instilled in my sisters and I. Having this larger worldview has changed my life in many ways… including opening the possibility of living somewhere other than America. It’s never been an issue because our family is so used to travelling overseas, we would still see each other plenty. And if there were ever an emergency, you just pay the extra for the next flight back.
And that has been all well and fine… until well, you guessed, Corona.
Around the time that I moved to Australia, mum and dad moved back to India. So with just my immediate family, we are in three countries on three different continents that require at LEAST a 9-18 hour flight to get remotely close to each other. While my family and I are close, we all are very independent, but that doesn’t change how hard the last year has been. Collectively, it feels as though there’s a cloud sitting over us. And not only because we haven’t been able to see each other but because we don’t know when we will get to see each other.
The last time I saw my family was at our wedding in July 2019. The rest of my family got together for Thanksgiving that year, and that’s the last anyone has been able to get together. For those who are unaware, Australia’s borders are shut, and it’s extremely difficult to obtain an exemption to bring people in. I’ve read countless stories of spouses being separate and even parents from children. On the opposite end, it is still difficult to obtain an exemption to leave Australia, and upon return, flight expenses are astronomical while also having to do a 2 week hotel quarantine where many do not receive fresh air or edible food. For the rest of the family, there has been different rules for America and India that have changed over the course of the year, but it was also a consideration of safety.
The past year has taken a toll on just about every person worldwide to some extent. I know here in Australia, I have so much to be grateful for, but I also know that my experience in being separated from my family is a very real thing that is hard. My immediate family, including Dan, are my rocks. They are my biggest supporters and encouragers. They are the ones who can get me fired up like nobody else, the ones who make me laugh the most, the ones who know me better than anyone else. They know what to say and when to say it. They know when to call me out on my crap and when I actually just need to cry. We are the farthest things from a perfect family, but I also wouldn’t trade any of them for the world.
This year, we have Facetimed more than ever. It’s one of the most beautiful things that leaves me happiest- when we can somehow coordinate finding a time across three very different time zones. This year we have had to be creative in how we connect with each other. We have had to be intentional with talking to each other and letting each other in on our lives. Again, none of us have done it perfectly, and we have had our fair share of disagreements, but that doesn’t shake us. We are family. We have endured lots together, and not even Corona will change that.
Each of my family members have experienced a hell of a year… and I wouldn’t say in a good way. It feels as though every tough situation has been even tougher because we haven’t had the whole family there to weather it together. Because this whole blog is supposed to be about sharing real experiences, here we go… I had to face going through a miscarriage without my family here. I am incredibly thankful for Dan’s family and friends who were there, but it was one of the most painful parts of the whole experience. When I fell pregnant, I craved exact dishes that I had not eaten for years that my mum used to make. It was the small things like that which became the big things. When I found out we were going to miscarry, I went for a walk by myself. And my only wish is that my sisters could be there walking with me. But here I am, still standing.
Never before have I questioned why I moved to this country until this last year. I used to be Miss Independent, and this aspect of my life is one where I feel so incapable and feeble. It does feel like there is constantly an off feeling of knowing that we don’t know when we will see each other. Being completely honest, having family in countries across the world is usually a great thing, but this last year is has been one of the hardest things.
I am definitely a believer in the idea that everything happens for a reason, but I can’t say I have found one yet. I trust God is sovereign, but I also know sometimes life is hard and circumstances are completely out of our reach. I have to keep holding onto hope, even when it feels like I keep running out. As cheesy as it sounds, it’s a daily practice to be thankful for what I do have and to continue to look forward in anticipation of what a beautiful reunion it will be. Until that day, lots of Facetimes, lots of prayers and lots of anticipation.