It’s 2016. My 49th birthday is tomorrow. The last time I celebrated my birthday and Anniversary in the United States was for my 43rd birthday and our 10th Anniversary, Emma’s 7th birthday. I’m grateful the Six amazing years we’ve had in Asia since we packed up and left in 2010.
This year we celebrate our 16th Wedding Anniversary, Jack and mine’s 49th birthday and Ms. Emma became a teenager. It’s a big deal to our family.
As my birthday approaches, as I ponder on the 16 years of being married, raising and homeschooling a teenager– it’s inevitable to think, oh my how time has flown.
My life is filled with reflections. I reflect and reflect and reflect some more. Too much reflecting. I know I’m weired that way but that’s me. To a fault.
Returning to Texas was sudden. It wasn’t planned although on the eve of New Years Eve (30 December 2015), Jack and I had a lengthy serious talk about ‘what if’s’ in round-about ways and while planning the trip to Thailand, then to Burma with my Mother and Emma, without Jack– there was a nagging feeling and a voice I ignored days prior to that night we had that serious talk. I should have listened.
Fast forward, while in Chiang Mai, Thailand for 2 weeks in January 2016, before heading to Burma while obtaining our visas, arranging playdates for Emma with her friends etc., we learned about Jack’s Mum’s hospitalization. Remember the nagging voice. I should have listened. Hindsight is 20/20. It’s the truth.
All of our plans came to a halt in Thailand. My mother in law past away. I learned about it in Thailand right before our trip to Burma. It was a tamultuous time for me emotionally being in Thailand. I hated being away from Jack. I hated that he was alone in Taiwan. I felt torn. We were messaging and talking to eachother on the phone (that’s all I had) between three different time zones (Texas, Taiwan and Thailand). I just wanted to get things done one by one and get through each day.
I remember having the worst phone conversations with my father as an adult. I wanted to die. He was probably angry because my Mother’s have to return to the US. I wanted her to continue on to Burma, but her return ticket to the US was out of Taiwan. I was overwhelmed, and I simply wanted to disappear from this earth during that conversation. Nothing is ever easy or simple. However difficult it may have been, we made it work, we cancelled 6 flights, lost money on 3, booked 4 more last minute, lost three approved visas to Burma.
I manage to return with my mother and my homeschooled teenager from Thailand back to Taipei with multiple suitcases. We saw Jack in passing for one night at a hotel near Taoyuan airport. He was on his way to the US and we are returing back to our small town in the south via train from Taipei. Jack made a lot of the transportation arrangements and made my life a bit easier by doing so.
Emma was my helper with the heavy suitcases. We can’t just check-in suitcases when traveling on trains in Taiwan. We have to carry them, lift them up into the train etc. Once back in our small-town, I had a few more days to do laundry, make arrangements for my mother to go shopping, repack (as in pack away all of our belonings in our rooms, upstairs) and clean up the entire 2-story rental home ( it’s a 7 bedroom home so you can imagine of the house which needed cleaning). I was emotionally and physically exhausted. Then the day came when we had to leave again and head back to Taipei with more luggage, to send my Mother off back to Houston. Then a day later we got ourselves on a plane and back to Arlington, Texas. It was a whirlwind and now, nearly 2-5 months later, we are heading back to Taiwan. My birthday felt like a whirlwind too.
Since October 2015 there have been three deaths. Two under the age of 50. We learned about all of them while abroad.
Seriously though my hair has been falling out for months now. Try telling that to anyone. The first reaction is “you have so much hair!!”
I’ll just keep it to myself and one of these days I’ll get to tell a doctor.