My cousins Shawna and Tara, Aunt Sylvia, myself and Uncle Ken at the cottage.

You may find it strange that for someone that believes so strongly in connection, I felt it was so much easier living away from family – until today.

My aunt’s four-year battle with cancer has ended.   I am not there today to support my uncle and my cousins.  Even though there are no helpful condolences, my heart goes out to them. There is nothing that I can do to change the situation, but if I was there, I would give them a hug.

As an ex-pat, we have made the choice to live away from family and friends.

With Uncle Ken and Aunt Sylvia on the boat.

Many of my expat friends have gone through recent experiences that make them feel torn to be here.  A friend’s parents got COVID, and she was trying to arrange home care from here for them in the UK.  A friend’s father collapsed, and he was working with his brother in the US to figure out what to do next.  Another was trying to convince her aging mother to go to the hospital after she fell. It is not that we could do much about the health of the parent if we were physically there; none of us have medical backgrounds, but we could be a support.

Zoom and telephone calls will never replace holding someone’s hand or a warm hug.

My uncle is my father’s brother.  He and my aunt have treated me like a daughter since my dad died when I was a teenager.  He has been a father figure in my life more years than my father was able.  It makes me so sad that I am unable to be there now.  My cousins have it covered and will take care of him while he goes through this period of loss.  But I am left with the feeling that I should be there.

The cottage on Sparrow Lake. Aunt Sylvia and Uncle Ken built this over many years. They camped here while the first part was constructed.

For anyone that has immigrated or spent periods of time away from their home country, these are the times when doubt can creep in.  Was it selfish of me to move away?  What will I miss while I am gone and will I ever get it back.  Is it worth it?

For me, the freedom, and the new life that I found in Barbados is worth it.  I am confident in my decision to settle in Barbados, but that does not mean that it is always easy.  I have had the opportunity to reinvent myself, but there is a part of me that still resides in Canada with my loved ones.  There is a part of my soul that will always be there whether I go back to live or not.

Sylvia Hord, I will never forget your bravery.  I will forever remember your words of encouragement to continue to be gutsy, and your understanding of things like my patience, considering my Hord birthright ; )  Your support during my struggles meant everything to me.  I hope that you have found peace following your own.

Aunt Sylvia and Uncle Ken at the cottage - my happy place outside of BIM.