Sometimes your heart needs more time to accept what your mind already knows. ~ Author unknown
If you’ve heard this quote, most likely it had to do with a relationship that just ended unexpectedly, but this quote came to mind a few weeks ago and it seems very fitting to various scenarios of living and raising kids overseas.
Can you relate?
Yes? No? Maybe?
- On the airplane, seat belt clicked in place, announcements drumming in your ear, tears slip down your face as the plane begins to push away from your family and everything known.
- Or, maybe you’re the one staring at the empty seat across the table wondering if your loved one made all the connections okay and adjusting to their new home.
- Or, maybe graduation is fast approaching and you know you should be celebrating – and you are, but there are moments of grief.
- Or, maybe you just said rushed good-byes to friends who have become family…
Our heads take note of plans. We might highlight them on the calendar. We might post a countdown on social media. We might plan good-bye parties, sell our possessions, and do all the things that our head tells us to do.
But, what about those times when it is all unexpected? Like last week.
We went to the foreign agency to renew our daughter’s passport. We donned our masks, took our temperatures, sprayed our hands and went through security. As we waited in the lobby, our daughter sat on the floor and opened the purple plastic tub full of treasures. She lined up all the small cars. She found the doctor’s equipment and checked her stuffed dog’s heart and gave him a shot. I was so thankful for the simple treasures to entertain her while we waited.
Our number was called and after the lady behind the counter looked at all the documents announced that she qualified for her first adult passport.
YELLOW light – SLOW down. What do you mean “adult” passport?
While it is true that our daughter is 16, she is mentally more like a 2-4 year old. So, yes, technically she does qualify, but boy was my heart not ready.
Just a few months ago, I took our son to get his first adult passport. He’s 18 and I was totally expecting this. It was still bittersweet, mind you – but the heart was a bit more prepared.
This was different. I went through the motions and paid the fees.
This year has been quite the shake up. Who would have thought that life as we knew it could change so drastically. Kids are home doing what my husband at first coined “crisis school”, people are working from home, and others have been forced to leave their host countries within days.
Just a few weeks ago as I was hugging a young lady who had just found out that she would be leaving in a couple of days, I whispered in her ear two thoughts.
You see, even though I had just experienced this minor dilemma, I have had other heartwrenching experiences in the past that left me thinking “what now?”.
Like when my daughter almost died of pneumonia and later diagnosed with a mental and physical disability.
From that experience I knew what needed to be done. It is what I whispered in her ear.
- Survive these next few days. Do what you have to do to pack up and say good-bye to all those people and places you can.
- Grieve when you get to your new destination…grieve and process.
Survive and Process (which usually means grieving).
- Pack, clean the house, sell what you can.
- If at all possible say good-bye to people and places.
- Get through those online classes one day at a time.
- Grieve the losses, take time to grieve
- Journal your thoughts and emotions
- Write letters to people you may not have had a chance to properly say good-bye to.
- Talk to others who may also be going through the same thing – you are not alone, I’m sure.
For me, when my daughter was going through her health crisis – I did what I could to survive each day (ate food, talked to doctors, went to appointments, and took care of my almost 2 year old son). I processed by journaling, crying and praying to God for help, and I met with other parents who had children with the same diagnosis as my daughter.
At the government building, I signed the papers and paid the fees for her “adult” passport. When we got to the car, I looked at my husband and said, “Well, I wasn’t prepared for that.” Then we went to an authentic Mexican restaurant.
Sometimes surviving and processing takes months, maybe even years. That morning it only took a few minutes.
And if possible, later celebrate. (I highly recommend this.)