There is a moment of pure silence just before the world comes crashing down. It seems like everything is in slow motion - just like the movies. Maybe it's shock because your brain is trying to process the information it receives. That part doesn't really matter, though. The part that matters is the rush of panic, confusion and utter pain when you realise the worst has happened.
For me, I found out that someone I care about had become deathly ill. More than that the weight of their illness came with guilt because I know how much money I have in my bank account and I know it's not enough to fly back to Canada in my wildest dreams. If you don't know - I'm currently based out of New Zealand. That is just over 15,000 kms and 24+ hours of travel away from my home town where I know my family is reeling. And I found out this news from Facebook just like I've found out most things from back home that have happened while I've been on the road.
When I lived in London there was a deadly shooting near my parent's jobs in Ottawa and I found out through Facebook.
When a friend had died I found out through Facebook.
When a friend was engaged and later got married I found out through Facebook.
When a new family member was born I found out through Facebook.
I make my living through social media (ok well... I'm still trying) and yet it does something to you when you find out all your news - good or bad - from social media. It hurts and you physically ache because it just shows how far away you are. It gives you definitive proof of your distance. Especially during the bad times. Sometimes my town can feel like nothing has changed while I've been away, growing and thriving but this is not the truth. Everything changes and all so quickly. If you've ever thought about being away for a long time and especially a long distance you'll know the pain because it will come. There will be a lot of guilt felt as there are times when it's not at all feasible to return even if you need to but there are ways to help with that.
I'm not a big supporter of the asseveration "blood is thicker than water" because of my life experiences. I've learned that chosen family is the only important one you can have and when the family you choose is drying up while you're thriving there is a pain that is hard to really handle - especially if they are supportive as mine have been in my aspirations to travel the world. The reason I'm sharing this is because if you are living abroad, travelling or even just on the other side of your country it's important to know that you will miss out on life while you are living yours.
How To Make Things Easier
Yes, we all know about Skype and FaceTime but do we really utilise this tool as often as we should? It's sort of like visiting grandma in the home. We don't do it as much as we should because life gets in the way. I know that I will regularly go three months without speaking to family without using Facebook messenger because it's easier. However it's important too make the effort to schedule in a time at least bi-weekly where you can talk to people back home. If your family and friends are technologically illiterate like my parents are then you can buy Skype calling minutes and call landlines or cell phones. This is especially helpful during emergency situations like mine was because all you need is wifi or strong 3/4G internet and you can do it. I bought 15$ worth of minutes about a year ago and I'm still nowhere near finished. (At the moment I have 10.38$ left. However, this is a more of a sign of the fact that I've been fairly useless at calling home and because someone has taught my parents to FaceTime (even if iMsssage alludes them still.) More than being able to get as close to face-to-face communication this will force them into the habit of sharing things with you over voice or video instead of over the easier Facebook.
It's also nice to write physical letters. I'll be the first to say it - my handwriting is completely atrocious and really a disgrace considering I used to be pretty good at calligraphy. However I don't think I'm ever quite as happy as when I get proper letters in the mail. It's the same when you send them to people too. I currently have a few holiday cards on my mantel - even though it's nearly February - because they were so touching and funny. Maybe this is not the best way to share an emergency event but it's something to hold onto when things are rough or you're homesick like I am now.
Meeting half-way, if you are able to financially, is easily the best way to combat any surprise difficult conversations because it's the easiest way to connect when you're face-to-face. Pick a city where both of your closest international airports fly to and meet there. You'll be so happy you did and you get the opportunity to catch up on all the big and small news while you're travelling together. You would not believe half of the major news that is left out of regular video or voice chats until you talk in person.
I'm in no way perfect at doing any of this - frankly this post is self-indulgent - but it's important to try. If you have any helpful advice please feel free to post them in the comments and if you have any spare funds I would appreciate it if you could donate it to your local Heart and Stroke Foundation. Until next time, stay safe and healthy. xo