How can I write this only a few days on from my last post? Don’t ask me. It’s like a bloody rollercoaster being me.
My baby niece, born 6.5 weeks early, was allowed home yesterday. This is amazing after only two weeks of being in the ICU, and I am so very proud of my sis for coping so well, she is so happy to have her baby home with her at last. However, it would appear I’m not coping quite as well. I find myself on the verge of tears this morning as I think about the fact that I won’t see this little wonder, won’t get to hold her in my arms or hug my sister and my brother in law for another two months. Why? Because I am in Dubai, and she is in New York, and that’s 2 continents, 14 hours and God knows how many time zones away. It’s not that I can’t visit, but I suspect house guests are pretty much at the bottom of their list of things to think about right now. Not that that’s stopping me from gazing at Expedia trying to figure out the maximum amount of time I can get with them for the minimum amount of time away from my own little boy.
And so, not for the first time, I am sitting here wishing, wishing, wishing I wasn’t quite so far away. Thinking that a seven hour flight would have been a piece of cake. That I wouldn’t have to wait until tonight to see my niece on skype for the first time, because last night due to the time difference I was already in bed and missed their homecoming. That I would be home in the UK, just a car drive away, when she flew home to visit the family for the first time. It really hurts to miss all these things, and as hard as I am trying to keep my chin up about it all, I’m very sad.
It brings back painful memories for me too, of having my own son miles away from family and friends, and of my inability to cope and subsequent depression that went undiagnosed and unrecognised but I realise now, was not just a normal reaction to having a baby. The feelings I had back then rise to the surface like an old wound, shrouding me in darkness. I can feel the terrible, consuming loneliness I felt then, all over again.
How many moments have we missed by being here? Not the every day moments, but the ones that you can’t ever get back. It makes me sad to count. I missed my grandad’s funeral. I wasn’t there when my friend’s mum died suddenly, and I should have been. I missed another one of my best friend’s weddings (actually make that two weddings – same friend – that’s how long we’ve been gone for). I missed my own step-sister’s wedding too for that matter. I’ve missed visiting countless new born babies, and they all missed visiting mine. I can still count on one hand the number of visitors we had the first six weeks after my son was born. No making endless cups of tea for me, oh no. And now I’m missing those babies growing up too, and I want them to know me. I want my son to know his baby cousin, and to grow up playing with her in parks and on beaches and around the Christmas tree. I don’t want to miss any more.
Someone asked me yesterday what, if I could, would I change about my life? ‘Location’ was my immediate response. I had to think for a second if I really meant it, but in the end I decided that yes, rationally it is the only thing in life that makes me repeatedly unhappy. I simply do not want to be here. It’s not that Dubai is all bad. My last post bears witness to how good life can be here. Our quality of life is amazing, the weather is perfect (for now) and I have built a life here, which is a good life, not matter how much I gripe about it. But family and friends, they are what makes a place ‘home’. Being away from them is unbearable when confronted with the reality of missing something really important.
I wonder if my sister will feel the same. She is, after all, an expat herself. I hope that she will be better at coping and less of a train wreck, for her sake. One thing is for sure, I will be driving her mad keep asking her if she’s ok until I see her and can reassure myself that she is doing fine. And until I do I will try to content myself with skype-ing and phone calls and photographs and remember that there will be more moments, hundreds more, that I won’t miss, and to cherish them and remember how lucky I am to have them when they do finally come.