It’s now three-quarters of a year since I returned to live in Canada. Nine months is the same length of time as a pregnancy and in many ways, these past months have been similarly life changing.
There have been times of great joy. Getting the book deal I’d worked toward for years. Seeing English Rose thrive at her new school. Putting down roots in a place that wherever life took me, I’ve always thought of as home.
There have also been times of sorrow and angst. A death and chronic illness in my immediate family. Having to live apart from Tech Guy longer than either of us anticipated. A myriad of complications associated with managing an estate at a distance.
And there have been day-to-day challenges large and small. Identifying the best places to buy the basics of everyday life. Navigating a new and complex healthcare system. Fitting into a culture that after so many years away often seems foreign, while also transitioning to a new life as a full-time writer.
Against all of these, though, I’ve had a bulwark of friends, family and community.
While some friendships have slipped away, others have strengthened and I’ve also been blessed with new friends.
As many of you know, following an accident in school gym class English Rose has faced multiple health challenges. She now has a working diagnosis of a chronic, painful and, at present, little understood illness. In a situation no parent ever wants to experience with their child, the support of friends near and far has made a big difference to me.
Our family has been held up in prayer by members of our church community and many others, including Dragonfly sisters from my Golden Heart® class of 2015.
Friends at a distance have called, emailed and written (thank you to the Welsh Queen of Letter Writing Susanna Bavin) to say they’re thinking of us. I’ve also been touched by the kindness of those I only know virtually through social media.
Those nearby have popped in with home-baked treats and hugs, and are “on call” for crises ranging from a leaking pipe to an emergency hospital trip.
With Tech Guy thousands of miles and an ocean away, our family is geographically separated. Yet, perhaps more so than when we lived in the same house, we’ve worked hard to keep that family bond strong.
Over the past nine months, life events large and small have helped our little family pull and grow together. Although the distance isn’t easy, we’re not the first family that’s had to cope with an extended separation and we certainly won’t be the last.
For me, community is not only a place but a feeling.
It’s my new life in Canada, juxtaposed with people and places in the UK I’ll always hold dear.
It’s the bonds I’m blessed to have in my life and the people, including the sister of my heart (the Canadian Queen of Letter Writing), who continue to be there for me through life’s twists and turns.
It’s knowing that although my life has changed almost beyond recognition and more changes lie ahead, I can find comfort in that which is constant.
Although the past nine months have brought challenges I couldn’t have anticipated, I’m mindful of gratitude, my word for the year.
I’m grateful for what I have instead of lamenting what I don’t.
And when life hits a rough patch? There’s always ice cream, comfort reads and, at this time of year, the joy of spring shoes after months of winter boots!
Jen, I am honoured to merit a mention in your blog. You and your family have gone through such changes in recent months and, as you say, there have been challenges you could never have anticipated. You have shown such courage and grace in the face of whatever difficulties have come your way and I am glad to know that you feel supported by a network. Friendship, encouragement and just knowing that others care all make such a difference to our lives. Thank you for dubbing me the Welsh Queen of Letter Writing – it is a title I will rejoice in. xxx
And thank YOU, Sue. You’re an important part of my network and I very much appreciate your support. xxx
I’m so glad you’ve found ways to adjust to your new life and I admire your strength and perseverance throughout!
Thanks so much, Jennifer. I appreciate your lovely comment and vote of confidence!