LOG SEVEN: Never leave home without leaving in peace and saying GOOD-BYE In Memory of Nancy, my dearest cousin  (19 April 1953- 17 April 2015)

LOG SEVEN: Never leave home without leaving in peace and saying GOOD-BYE In Memory of Nancy, my dearest cousin (19 April 1953- 17 April 2015)

From the comfort of my family home, I continue my thread of thought on being overly ambitious to think that I would write my blog while working on assignment. And, that this assignment taught me that with age comes a change in ones ambitions to do more than less. Doing more would have meant 14 hour days vs. 12 hour days, and getting a blog a night out of me when I was tired. …

What I learned on this European Union assignment in Addis Ababa was that being consumed by long hour workdays away from family and friends is no longer as joyous as it once was. Especially when the assignment requires one to continue working at distressing moments. For me this was the best of work experiences at the worst of times. And, at a time when I wished to be home but knew if I left I would not finish the tasks I had agreed to. Nor would it be feasible to travel so far to get back to family. Yet, I felt guilty. And, felt isolated. As well as so alone.

Why you may ask?

Because two people near and dear to me died un-expectantly. And, each had a very special place in my heart. I wished I could have said GOOD-BYE and told them I loved them one more time. I did not get the chance to do this. And, for this reason feel extremely sad. As one ages, the chance of ones best mates, most important and closest family members dying increases. It’s the natural and normal progression in life. And, for most people their friends and families live normally near by. But, as an aid worker, as an expatriate, ones’ family and friends always live miles and ocean crossings away. And, as a Diaspora living outside of ones country, the people you most loved are people who you have missed for many moons while working on consuming, fascinating, interesting assignments abroad. That’s normally OK when you miss a wedding, a birth, a graduation, an anniversary or a retirement party but when you un-expectantly miss being able to say “GOODBYE” to those you care the most about and they die… IT IS NOT OK.

Being away at critical ‘passages’ in life’ is the worst of feeling. Its unlike any feeling of aloneness I have had in the past when I missed a passage of importance— like my mothers retirement party. I felt miserable and guilty for not being able to leave work and go home. It was sadness but I was able to justify my reasoning. Death of a family member however is much much different. It opens up the visualization of the memories past. It magnifies the voice of the relative back in ones brain.

It stirs every imaginable emotion.

All of a sudden one is out of sync with reality, in the wrong place at the wrong time. Being on assignment seems just not right. Yet, with years of practice working abroad in relief, emergency and disaster, aid and development has meant seeing and experiencing the worst of situations, death of humanity, and times of sorrow for others. One would expect that when an unexpected event happens in one’s one family, the behavior would be to become calm and controlled. For me this is what happened. I maintained. I finished 95% of my assignment. I presented my work as a pro does. And, I kept moving ahead until I could let go to grieve. My reality hit my face hard: It was my choice to enter this industry, to be mobile and global, therefore it was my responsibility to was my decision to be alone at such a critical passages in life. That’s the fact for not just humanitarians but for expatriates and Diaspora’s who move abroad. Death can happen at any time to anyone you love.

However, two deaths in two weeks were the harshest of experiences to cope with under any term. I never could imagine this being my fate. But, it was. And, is. And, they are gone.

Moral of this story: Never leave home without leaving in peace, saying I love you, to each and everyone who is dear to you. It may be the last time you see them.

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