I’m a bit behind on updating my blog, but it’s been a crazy couple of weeks here. Two weeks ago, my dad went into the hospital. He wasn’t eating and was growing increasingly weak. After spending a lot of time in the hospital last fall receiving chemotherapy for Burkitt’s Lymphoma, a cancer that is aggressive but relatively rare among adults in the U.S., he was understandably hesitant to go back. Fortunately my mom was eventually able to convince him.
It was a good thing she did. After lots of tests, including MRIs and CAT scans, doctors learned my dad had a tumor growing in his brain. They decided to do a brain biopsy and the results showed the cancer we thought had been cleared in the fall had returned—this time attacking his brain.
Matt and I fortunately already had a trip planned to visit my parents in Arizona, so last week we were able to be there to cheer up my dad and support my mom. When he was battling cancer in the fall, my dad asked when we were going to get started on grandkids. I was shocked because he’d never even so much mentioned being a grandpa before, let alone asked us about our plans to start a family. His wish came true, though, and at Christmas we were able to deliver the news that he would soon be a grandpa.
Fast-forward to our trip to Arizona. We found out the gender of our baby a few weeks before we left and planned a little pregnancy reveal for my parents. We ended up having to do the reveal in the hospital, but the news really seemed to excite my dad and he loved (and I mean really loved—he couldn’t get enough of it) the cake we got to help with our surprise.
One thing I don’t think you can ever prepare for as an expat is the physical distance between you and your family and friends—especially in particularly joyous or difficult situations. I’m sure there are some who might say, “the farther, the better,” but it’s moments like this or even fun times like my cousin’s wedding in September that make the ocean seem bigger and the continents a greater distance away.
Visiting my parents in Arizona took us a full day of travel in either direction. At five months pregnant, that can be no small feat, but it was worth it (I’ll share tips I came up with for traveling while pregnant in my next post). We don’t know when we’ll be able to make our next trip home, so we tried to make the most of every minute we had there. We even managed to squeeze in some baby shopping and a nice dinner with my mom on our last night.
My dad will be starting the first of several more intense rounds of chemotherapy this week. We’re all praying the treatment is successful this time. I wish we could be there to continue providing support to my parents, but I’m grateful we had the time we did with them.
So, especially as we approach St. Valentine’s Day, I encourage all of you who live close to your family to pay them a visit and give them a hug. For those of you living at a distance like we are, be sure to reach out and remind your families just how much you love and miss them.
Happy Valentine’s Day and much love to you all!