“A feeling normally as individual as the ache of separation from those one loves, suddenly became a feeling in which all shared alike and, together with fear, the greatest affliction of the long period of exile that lay ahead.” – The Plague, Albert Camus
Everyone was taken by surprise by the unsettling news about the pandemic. I remember the feeling of disbelief at first and then the fear of the unknown. One night, I wasn’t able to fall sleep, thinking whether or not to buy masks, and if buying, what type! That day at Target, I had seen a couple of people wearing some kind of masks that looked like gas masks and thought, Are we really going to need that?
As we all know, everything happened so fast.
We had just moved back to the states after being abroad for a year. My daughter was longing to return to her old school with her friends. She was happy because her closest friends were in the same classroom! Her teachers were great, and it was a familiar place. Everything was going as planned, but it lasted only for two months until March of 2020 brought us to a new shocking reality.
And plans…we all had plans!
We were supposed to visit my family in July 2020 for my nephew’s graduation. That was the plan, but gradually all our plans fell through and the long wait for “when things get back to normal” started.
I had always tried to visit my family often. We used to say that we were only a flight away, but this time it was different. We were stuck in different countries, and it made me feel so distant and afflicted, like the excerpt in Albert Camus’s book.
Fast forward to September 2021.
After almost two years of not seeing my parents in person, several flight cancellations, and many tears, an opportunity to travel opened up. Putting all fears aside, I decided to take it. I couldn’t wait more for the moment when my daughter and I would finally hug my parents.
And it happened. We landed, and my heart was pounding. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to cry or laugh or maybe both.
When we exited, there they were: my parents and brother were waiting for us at the international arrivals, their eyes wide opened and searching through the arriving travelers. When I finally got to hold them, I couldn’t stop the tears.
Two years is a long time to wait for a hug. Although it was only a two-week visit, spending time with family recharged me. I was so thankful and lucky to have them by my side.
The importance of a hug, a short walk, a good laugh, or even sharing a moment of silence together takes a different perspective especially when it is taken away. I always cherish my time with family, but this reunion felt a little sweeter.