Friday, October 21, 2005

Bad news

I got an email from an expat friend of mine (the one from Ohio who didn't know what SunDrop was). She's in the States visiting her friends and family and her father has taken seriously ill. He's been unwell for some time and awaiting a liver transplant, which is now critical.

I'm awfully sorry that this has happened, but happy (is that the right word?) that she was with her family when her dad became so ill that he had to be put in Intensive Care. Perhaps the hardest thing about being an expat is being so far away when serious illness or death strike your family. You feel so horribly helpless and it's often not clear if you should go (will you be in the way, will your arrival signal a loved one's departure?).

I've seen many expats suffer with the dilemma. It's particularly poignant for the Aussies and Kiwis who are days aways from their families and may not even be able to get a seat. I've watched an Australian colleague struggle with the airlines and pay through the nose in an attempt to see her mother one last time.

At least I can be reasonably assured of being able to get back to Tennessee within the day. But it doesn't make the decision about whether to go or not easier, I've had to deal with this twice once with my mom (she's ok) and with my grandfather (not a happy ending).

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