I’ve been living abroad for just shy of 8 months. I mark the days by the photo updates I get of Kate’s littlest nephew Simeon, born just a couple of weeks before I left.
Of Kate’s 7 nieces and nephews, he was the only one whose birth I was present for. I watched a family of five become a family of six and overnight I found myself so full of love for a tiny person I’d just met.
It’s difficult to watch him grow up in photographs and occasional video chats, seeing each month of my absence shown is his growing person. It’s hard to know that the little people who became my family during my time in Seattle are growing up and developing into bigger, different versions of themselves without me.
I’ve marked the days of my absence in the birthdays I’ve missed, family dinners I’ve skipped, and holidays I haven’t celebrated.
But I’ve also marked my 8 months here in so much more. In new places visited, strange foods tried, and Thai words learned (all 8 of them…) In dozens of relationships formed, and a life ultimately changed for the people who have come into it.
I have marked these months by the things I have left behind, and by those things that have replaced them. From an adopted family of 15 to a toddler classroom of 10. From long pants and winter jackets to sun dresses and shorts.
And I have marked them by the things that have stayed the same. The smell of coffee in the early hours as I sit and watch the rain. The air that bears the same dampness as it did in Seattle, and the sweaters that ward off the dusky evening chill as much here as they did there. The kindness of others, as present here as at home, and the support of a best friend whose love still steadies me while thousands of miles away.
I am grateful for the unchanging things. And attempting to accept with grace the things that inevitably must change, with and without me.
People ask what my plans for the future are–how long I’ll be here, when I’ll return home, what I will do when my contract ends. I don’t know. I don’t know if I’ll return to the little people that love me at home (and the big ones) or if I’ll stay here and watch these kids grow and become bigger, different versions of themselves too.
The things I do know:
The past 8 months here have been difficult and incredible, as I have found to be the general theme of much of my life. I am happy with what my life is now, though at times I desperately miss what it used to be.
And in the moments of indecision and wavering confidence, I am brought back to reality by focusing on the things I love right now.
So for now I will focus on that. And know that my absence from Seattle is not an absence from the hearts of those I left there. And I will continue to measure my time in these beautiful updates: