April 3rd, 2023
My wife, Karin, and I want to drive from our home in Wisconsin down to Texas to visit our three grandchildren there. Unfortunately, we can’t make the journey at this time. We don’t know when we will be able to go. There are a number of reasons why we can’t make the trip, and all of them somehow involve the fact that we are the primary caregivers for our toddler grandson, Asher. As guardians of Asher, nearly all of our time and energy is spent watching over the boy. Travel outside of the immediate vicinity of our home is difficult. Long trips are impossible. We don’t mind being at home with Asher, but we miss being with Weston, Maddy, and Wyatt. I have never even met Wyatt, and I have only seen Maddy once in my life. This grieves me.
I have to put things into perspective. Our situation is unlikely to be permanent. Circumstances will change, and we may be able to go to Texas someday. In a couple years, our grandkids from the South will be able to come up to Wisconsin and visit with us for the summer. In the meantime, we can exchange videos and photos. We are not total strangers to each other.
I know other people who are separated from their loved ones, and their struggles are far more challenging than mine. I have a friend who is an Afghan refugee. He and his wife and their baby boy fled Kabul just before it fell in August of 2021. Luckily, they were accepted into a country that has proven to be a safe haven for them. My friend worries about the family members he left behind in Afghanistan. He wonders how to get them to safety. He wonders when he will see them again. The answer to the last question is “probably never”. They can’t come to him. He cannot not go back to Afghanistan. Unless the Taliban suddenly disappear, he won’t see these relatives again. That is a hard reality to face.
I also know a family of Syrian refugees. My friends from Syria have been living in the United States for about seven years. Before coming to America, they lived for a while in southern Turkey, in the area that suffered so much during the recent earthquakes. These refugees still having family members residing in that part of Turkey. They have been in contact with their relatives and have sent them whatever help they could. My friends would dearly love to hug and console the people that were injured and lost their homes, but they can’t go to Turkey to be with them. That is another hard reality.
There are people all over the world who are separated from the people they love the most. Millions of Ukrainians are refugees, and they might never see the folks that they left behind in their war-torn homeland. There are displaced Rohingyas, Yemenis, Hondurans, and countless others who probably told family members, “We’ll see you again”, knowing that they won’t. Sometimes a goodbye is temporary, sometimes it’s forever.
That’s a hard reality.