The call came at 11:18 pm, as I was googling Game of Thrones fan theories. I could tell right away that it was serious from the tone in my mother’s voice. My grandmother had been placed in hospice and was given 48 hours to live.
I immediately started making calls to see what I could do, and if I’d be able to make it home in time. After about two hours on the phone with various airlines, I’d gotten myself a way home via 4 different layovers and 2 days of travel. It was all worth it for a shot at seeing my grandmother one last time.
When I came to Taiwan several months ago, my grandma wasn’t doing so well. She was 99 years old to begin with , and had suffered multiple heart attacks after which she’d asked for a DNR or “Do Not Resuscitate”. So I knew it might be a possibility that she’d pass while I was in Taiwan, and I’d even considered stalling my move abroad because of it. But after several lengthy conversations with my family and good friends, I’d came to the conclusion that waiting around for someone to die was not only extremely morbid, it wasn’t any way for me to live.
Of course, given all this, I was still afraid that the last time I saw before her before I left might be the last time I’d ever see her. It turned out I was right.
I landed in San Francisco (about halfway through my journey home) to 48 text messages in a group chat with my cousins about their grief in losing our grandmother. So that’s how I found out that she’d passed and I hadn’t made it home in time to see her.
But this was the choice I’d made.
If you make a life for yourself that is far away from your family, you have to deal with the down sides that come along with that. You’ll probably always be at least a day or two behind in emergency situations. It might seem obvious but you can’t just get in the car and drive over to be within the comfort of your family. While I felt that the rest of my family was able to be with and comfort one another in the hours and days that followed my grandmother’s passing, I instead had to share my grief with my fellow passengers surrounding me on the airplane. I’m sure I put on a good show when I was sobbing alone after reading those texts from my cousins after landing.
Although it wasn’t ideal, I still don’t regret my decisions or my life choices. This is a part of what I’d signed up for when I decided to live in Asia, and I had to own up to both the good and the bad that came along as a part of that decision. I love living abroad. I love the amazingly interesting people I’ve met, I love the different opportunities I’ve received that I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise, and love the adventures I’ve had. I’ve already said in previous posts that I’m the happiest I’ve been in such a long time.
You’ll be missing out on tons of things while you’re gone, but you’ll be inheriting the world as an alternative. At the end of the day, it’s your one wild and precious life and it’s your duty to live it to the fullest extent possible. The people closest to your heart will know that you carry them with you each day and will also understand that your love is with them unconditionally.
I know that my grandma wouldn’t have wanted anything but for me to be happy. So that’s what I’m going to do, and I’m going to do it well.