Hi all, I'm sorry that I haven't written lately.In October, it was for good news (family was visiting) and then for sad news (my nephew died suddenly). I'll catch you up on the former in the next few posts. Let me just say a few things about being an ex-pat when big events -- I'm thinking tragic ones like this, but I bet there's some similar dislocation for happy events as well -- happen in a family and you're (I'm) an ocean away.
There's a tempting feeling that you could very successfully ignore the entire situation. You're not home; there's no connections to remind you. You feel frozen in some alternative universe, before the blow and part of this sings of escape. I remember being in a medium sized car crash with someone who said "it's amazing how strong the feeling to just drive away is". He didn't, it wouldn't have changed the impact ultimately and, as they say, "wherever you go, there you are". The facts at hand don't change.
The other feeling, almost a direct contradiction of the first, is to want to know everything, to keep trying to get in contact with others and get news. It's not really news that I wanted, but connection. When tragedy happens, we feel all the mixed up feelings (sadness, anger, confusion, numbness, blame, whatever) with a community at first, before eventually settling down with the reality of it all, and the individual impact. Those first feelings, when you feel your own grief, and the grief of those both closer and more removed from the event, are muted over the ocean. You feel others moving on without you.
So, it was hard and bewildering. Of course nothing compared to what others in my family are feeling still, everyday, but a different experience because of the difference in time and distance. It felt awful.