Monday, June 29, 2009

Death from a distance

My mom called today while I was in the shower. I missed the call and figured I would talk to her later. Fifteen minutes later, I got a call from my sister and my heart sank. Someone died, was the first thing that entered my mind.

Nobody died. It's my Name Day today and she was calling to wish me well.

As my grandparents and parents get older, death is constantly on the back of my mind. Most of my communication with family members happens electronically, so every time someone calls, I take a second to breathe in and out before I pick up. I worry that they are calling with bad news.

Is this why immigrants always have this barely noticeable sadness in their eyes? Not because of anything bad that happened to them but because of the constant worry that if something bad did happen to someone back home, they would not be able to participate in the collective healing?


  1. That was my worst fear when I lived abroad... And also, when someone sounds sad on the phone, or mentions they're not feeling OK (and nothing more than that) you start freaking out... It is the distance that does this to you. I never found a way to fight this.
    There were even times when I actually avoided talking to mom - she usually sounded sad (just because she missed me so much), but I made a HUGE deal out of it. Every time. It killed me to hear her sad voice and not to be able to give her a hug ...

    Happy name day! :)

  2. Happy Name Day!

    And, yes, I constantly have the same fear, and it's not just for my family abroad, it happens with family that's 15 minutes away.

  3. I think that is def a constant fear for immigrants...I know it is for my bulgarian boyfriend!-Lydia

  4. you put words to a feeling i've always had but never defined to myself. yes, it's the fear you wouldn't be there to be a part of a potential difficult moment for your family... to help with the 'healing' as you said. it seems everything else is manageable except for that emotion. for me it has created this subtle underlying sadness that often comes through in my 'bulgarian dreams'- the plane could never land in time... the street names have changed so i can't make it to the house in time.. i wan't to say i want to help but everything i say comes out in english and they get frustrated with me..

    thanks for your insightful post!

  5. Thanks for your comments. For some reason, it is comforting to know that I am not alone in this. Sometimes, when I get like that, I feel like I am losing my mind. Def not a good feeling. ;)

  6. I have been living in Bulgaria for almost exactly two years now. Last summer my Grandmother died and I was not able to make it home for the funeral and all communication was electronic. It's very hard...