This definition of the word “home” gets a little muddy in missionary life. We learn to be a lot more flexible with the term. We try to teach our kids that “home is wherever we are together” and “home is family”. And while that is true, please allow me to whine a bit.
There are days where I just plain miss my “first home”. The place where I spent most of my childhood. (Yes, I know that last sentence wasn’t truly a sentence you grammar people, but that’s how folks are writing in blogs these days so be prepared for a few more phrases with periods at the end!) The place where smells were cemented into my sinuses. The place where I could roam around the woods and not get stared at. The place where I knew I could count on a family member in one of the 4 houses on OUR road (It’s named after us. Yes we’re THOSE kind of rednecks.) being home at any given hour of the day. The place where we all met up at Grandma’s house Sunday after church cuz that was our tradition. (And boy can that woman cook!) The place where we’d meet my Dad for lunch in whatever neighborhood he was working in and join in on his “treat the guys to lunch on Fridays” cuz that’s the kind of boss my Dad is. And the list could go on and on and on.
There are days (especially rainy ones) where I just want to sit in an emotional puddle and walk down memory lane and watch my life flash before my eyes like an old VHS tape that I can stop and rewind at all the good parts. (Did I just date myself? My boys don’t even know what VHS tapes are!) And there are so many good parts. God has been so good. Don’t mistake me for being ungrateful. I am SO blessed and I know I am right where God wants me, and my family, to be. But there are days when I feel like I’m in a dream where I’m reliving memories. Although the memories in and of themselves are amazing and wonderful, they leave me sad and weepy. No joke. Sometimes I find myself crying out of nowhere. Today is one of those days.
Today I’m having a hard time getting myself out of my memories and back into reality, the present. It’s almost like I’m grieving. I don’t ever remembering being told and/or warned about this feeling before coming to the mission field. This little booger will sneak up on you too! When I least expect it, I find myself grieving for a family member as if I’ve missed their funeral…but they’re still ALIVE! How weird is that? (Any of you other missionaries out there feel free to validate my feelings and thereby vouching for my sanity, ok?!)
My grandma and I are really close…like mother/daughter close. An uneducated women in the eyes of the school system, she has traveled the world to see us in 4 different countries on 3 different continents. While stubborn as a bull, she’s not too proud to admit when she is wrong and reconcile relationships. Bottom line, her hearts’ desire is to honor God above all else. She’s getting older and more fragile physically and that is killing me…from a distance. I don’t know if she’ll be able to make it back out to Africa to visit again and that thought wakes me up at night. Although I talk to her on the phone weekly and my mind travels through memories to hang out with her daily… my heart however is already grieving her as if she’s gone to her long awaited home. I literally have to make myself snap out of it and shake myself out of mourning. What is wrong with me?
I can’t tell her this. It would only intensify the separation she’s feeling too. I know I’m not the only one missing family. They miss us too. She’s not the only family member leaving a hole in my heart these days. I think I miss HER more deeply right now because she’s getting older and the reality is setting in that she won’t be around much longer.
So for now, I’ll continue to periodically snap myself out these random pre-grief comas. When I have a dream or daydream of my family I’ll just shoot them a message (thank you facebook messenger and turtle speed internet) and make sure everything is ok. Unfortunately, there is no remedy for homesickness. It’s a like a virus that comes and goes. Although it’s a much unwanted visitor, the time spent together can be redeemed. It can serve as a reminder to count my blessings. I can choose to be left feeling lost and alone as if everything I love has been ripped away from me OR I can choose to appreciate each and every memory, grateful for every relationship.
So, today, I choose to medicate my homesickness symptoms with prayer, praise, and a chat with family 🙂 A prescription for a Dairy Queen Reese’s Cup blizzard wouldn’t hurt either 😉 That’ll just have to wait 2 more years…