If you can’t live longer, live deeper

The hardest thing about living overseas is that you are far away from family in times of need. It’s obvious really, but it often doesn’t occur to people until something happens. And something always does happen at some point if you’ve lived overseas for any period of time. But then that’s the thing about life isn’t it? These things are inevitable no matter where you live and you can’t put your life on hold for fear that something might happen at some point. 

It’s been a tough year between one thing and another. There seems to have been a fairly constant stream of less than pleasing news from the people closest to me. The hardest to come to terms with was when my Dad fell ill. He was ill for several months of this year, lurching at frequent intervals from a state of crisis to relative stability and back again, or at least that is how it felt. A roller coaster situation that was hard to be away from when my visits ended, waiting for news and updates, pacing across the floor with my heart leaping into my mouth whenever the phone rang. It’s hard to be away from family at times like these but at the same time, following my dreams and my own path in life is exactly what my parents have always encouraged me to do. In fact, every time I returned to the UK to visit my Dad for an extended period, it was never too long before he began to ask when I would be leaving again! Not because he wanted me to leave, but because he wanted to ensure that I wasn’t putting my own life on hold or missing out on things that I should be involving myself with back at my own home in Abu Dhabi. He felt I needed to get back – to continue on with my life and be with my husband. “That’s what it’s all about” he would simply say.

On October 11th, my life, and the lives of my family changed irrevocably. On that day, after a few short (but at the same time very long) months of illness my previously fit and well Dad passed away peacefully. So now, here I find myself – here my Mum and my brothers all find ourselves – in a position that we knew was coming, but was no less shocking when it finally did happen. So here I am, ‘adjusting’ to life without my Dad. How do you begin to adjust to life without such a significant member of your family?! An adjustment was back in the early 90s when the local bakery in our town changed its name from ‘Tooks the Bakers’ to the ‘Bakers Oven’. That was an ‘adjustment’. How do you adjust to life without a parent?! I’m not sure how anyone adjusts to this drastic change. I don’t know my life any other way – I just don’t know a life without my Dad. I can’t believe he’s not here anymore – that I will never see or speak to him again. I’m not sure how you can ever get used to that but I suppose people must do, with time. People say sorry for your loss. It’s one of those kind things that people say at times like these but it’s hard to get my head round. What have I lost? I haven’t mislaid my keys or forgotten where I left my wallet! This is my Dad we’re talking about. My Father. How could I ever lose my Dad? He may not be right here with us anymore, but the memories he gave us all will never be lost. I haven’t lost my Dad, or anything he gave me, though life will never be quite the same again.

I may live far from the country of my birth but despite everything that has happened this year, I do still consider myself to have been in a fortunate position – fortunate enough to have had the time and the opportunity to have been able to spend as much time with my family as I have this year. Fortunate enough to have been able to say my goodbyes to my Dad while he was still with us. I also believe that living further away you learn to place a greater value on the precious moments of life than you might when living much closer to friends and family – it’s much easier to take for granted what is right under your nose and is always there, close at hand. I’ve also been fortunate in the type of family that I have – a family that is always supportive and understanding, and a family that enjoys escaping the UK for foreign climes to visit us all no matter where in the world my brothers and I are scattered or choose to meet. When you have to plan your time more carefully with the people most precious to you it makes you all the more mindful to live in the moment and be present in those moments – to make every second count as you just don’t know which of those seconds might be the last chance you ever get.

For anyone considering an overseas move, I would still say as I always have done – do it. Just do it and don’t look back. You can think yourself into a frenzy about all the things that might happen, that could go wrong but don’t waste your energy. Things will go wrong from time to time. Unfortunate events will occur, just as they would if you stayed at home, but the positive experiences you open yourself up to will far outweigh the negatives. You’re only ever a flight away and the world is becoming a smaller place every day. You’ve got nothing to lose – if you move and it doesn’t work out you can return home, but at least you’ll have given it your best shot and you won’t always wonder ‘what if…?’. So go on, stop thinking and start doing. Get out there and take some chances, live your dreams. You only get one life, so grab hold of it and embrace every moment. Live deeper.

Donations in memory of my Dad have been sent to The Brain Tumour Charity.

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10 Comments

  • I think a good piece of writing is one that touches the insides of those that read it, and you moved my insides in the best kind of way, even without me ever knowing your much loved father. You’re sharing truth and connection, which is universally human. You stirred in me thoughts and feelings (and tears) for my own family who are so very far away. More, more, more please Lindsey…

    • Thank you so much Heidi for your kind words. I’m so glad you could connect to my words – that’s the best kind of response I could hope for. 🙂

  • Lindsey your blog is beautiful ; made me cry in a good way., I am so sorry that you’re dad passed away. I don’t know what else to say except big hugs and big love xxx

  • Lindsey, it would be a hard hearted person who would read this and not cry for you and with you. I know what you are feeling. I hate that fact. To have seen my dad at home and then a few hours later be called over to be met at the door by a neighbour telling me he was gone. 13 years and I still don’t get it. I didn’t get the chance to say goodbye. Would I have wanted to say goodbye? Did I get they easy option? Sometimes it feels like it, most times it doesn’t. My brother emigrated a few years after dad died. My dad would’ve been upset but he just always wanted us to be happy. Wherever we were. Since him going our beloved grandad has gone and also my sister in laws dad. As the people left behind it is very easy to say ‘they chose to go, this was always a possibility that something might happen’, but you can’t live your life on what might be. Life is a gift for living. I am very much a believer in that life is too short for regrets. Life can be harsh and cruel but it can be amazing. Living the life you want wherever you are is the best testament you can make to the memory of your dad. Thinking of you and your family.

    • Thanks Jenna. Yes, life is definitely too short for regrets! It’s always going to be hard to deal with when someone close to us passes and I don’t think there’s a way that makes it easier. Passing suddenly can be kind for the person if it prevents unnecessary suffering but incredibly cruel for their family having had no warning at all. But then when you do have warning and a timescale, I’m not sure that provides much comfort either. I think even when you know it’s coming, it’s still shocking as it’s practically impossible for our brains to process and come to terms with this news. A loss is a loss and has a deep impact in whatever form it comes. Thanks for taking the time to add your thoughts. xx

  • This post made me tear up for a few reasons. You’ve lost the physical presence of your dad, and there are no words that I could simply string together to make a sentence to convey how sorry I am for this. I always say that no one should have to endure such pain. It’s unfair, whether it’s “just life” or not, it’s unfair. In whatever way and whatever age it happens, it’s just unfair. And that’s the only word I can think of.

    When I met you, you came into my life as just another colleague, but there have been many days I’ve thanked my stars that we were teamed together, because I got to know one of the strongest, most inspirational women I will possibly ever meet. I’ve spoken to you at length about my dreams and fears of travelling, and you’ve always told me “Just do it. Stop thinking. Don’t put your life on hold, just do it.” Before moving to Sydney, I was planning to go back to the UK and then travel from there. When I was offered the move to Sydney, it felt right, it wasn’t London or New York, but it felt right. I needed to be in Sydney to take the next step in my career, meet the people I needed to and now I’m working a dream job. I was so scared when I was moving, but my parents told me to chase my dreams, never look back, but always come home when I wanted to. My brother said to me “Liz, you can always come home, if it doesn’t work out, it’s not about pride, it’s about knowing you’ve given it your best shot”, and that’s exactly what you always say to me! You’ve always understood and supported my outlook on the world (often, we share the same view!), on people, on where I want to be and how to get there. And I have to say, my family aside, you have been probably the most inspirational person I have ever met. We’ve stayed in touch, supported each other in a toxic work place, given each other advice over slices of cheese and cups of tea, and you’ve completely understood where I’ve come from every time I’ve come to you with troubles, fears or aspirations. To say that you’re strong is an understatement. Sometimes I don’t even know how you do it, maybe it’s credit to Darren, but I know it’s mostly credit to your parents. I don’t need to tell you how proud your dad was of you, you’re his daughter, you know this! I suppose I just wanted to say “thank you” for being the person you are, a truly beautiful soul. As cliche as it sounds, don’t you ever change, because you are a brilliant person.

    • Lizzy! How do I respond to this fabulous comment you left me?! Thank you for reading and feeling moved, that moves me. I didn’t think anyone would be that interested in this post as it is so personal but I have been amazed at the response it has triggered! Thank you so much for all your kind words and for bringing back the memory of tea and cheese in that poison workplace kitchen! So glad you are living your dreams and making things happen for you. Now you’ve got your dream job start saving to come to Abu Dhabi! Xxx

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