I grew up in a small country town surrounded by a large extended family. Everyday I was surrounded by my own large family, being one of four children, and then the overflowing supply of aunties, uncles, cousins just a short drive away. It’s a lovely feeling to have a big family. As time went by, some relatives and cousins moved away. At 20, I moved to the other side of the world where I was truly alone for the first time in my life. Oh, how I loved that feeling.
Fifteen years ago, once my siblings and I were all grown and had left home, my parents moved from the bottom of South Australia up to Southern Queensland to be closer to my mother’s family, and also for a serious lifestyle change following a health scare for my father. It was so hard for my Dad to leave, almost 55 years living in the same place, but it was the best move for both of them, and they’ve never looked back.
Over time (more than a decade), each of my siblings and I have followed their lead, leaving the cold behind in the southern states and moving north. We zig zagged a bit to get there, but eventually all ending up in the same place when we felt it was the right time for each of us and our families. After many, many years of needing to get on a plane to see each other, we would finally all be just a short drive away again.
Unexpectedly, my sister and her family ended up moving to the Northern Territory at the same time my family arrived. It felt like a cruel blow at the time – we had all been so looking forward to our children growing together and spending more time together as a whole. But it was a necessary move for work, and that’s just life! Things don’t always got to plan.
Fast forward a couple of years and my sister’s family are now living in New Zealand. They have been here for over a month now, enjoying a lovely long holiday over the Christmas break. We’re down to our last week together before they head back to NZ.
Before Christmas, it had been ten months since we had seen them last. Of course we Skype and can each see how much the kids are all growing on the screen, but it’s not the same. The kids have wanted to spend every minute together, making the most of their time together.
The distance between us is hard. Especially when, during that time, some of us have/are experiencing the hardest seasons of our lives to date. The times when you need to be surrounded by the people who love you the most, who can ground you. When familiar and old and worn and comfortable are the things we crave more than anything else.
The distance between us is hard.
We are hopeful this will be the year we come back together.
Do you live close to your family? Or is the distance between you hard too?