Two Years Later…

Two years. Two years ago today, we drove away from Macha for the last time. While I fully intended to chronicle our transition back home, I think we can all agree that the last two years haven’t looked like what any of us expected. So, why am I back here now, unsure if anyone is still around to even read this? I don’t have a clear answer except that it feels like a way to cope with the emotions this anniversary brings (Side note: I did plan to do this at the one year mark, but it came and went as we were flung into another lockdown and here we are another year later). So thank you for indulging me in some ramblings.

Leaving Macha when we did, was the right decision, but I didn’t really want to leave. I loved our life there, my kids were thriving, I had a challenging and fulfilling job, we had great friends. We returned home in mid December of 2019 and were quickly engaged in Christmas festivities and then moving back to our house. The twins started school and the transition was surprisingly smooth. It turns out finding friends who also love soccer on their first day, made for an easy adjustment and we are so grateful for that.

The next few months were full of all the practical things of moving back, unpacking, making our house a home again and enjoying a few of the things we missed. There was definitely an underlying current of grief for me, but I was often distracted by all the tasks and decisions of starting a life over.  By February, I had already booked tickets for my first trip back a few months later in May. Knowing I planned to return to Macha a few times a year, helped my heart immensely with the idea of leaving. I didn’t rush to reconnect with everyone here because unlike our shorter visits back, I knew this time we had time on our side and there was just a lot to do. 

Our last Christmas program at MICS – December 2019

But as things started to settle on the outside, there wasn’t as much to distract from all the emotions beneath the surface. I remember a weekend in March when I didn’t want to get out of bed. I told Joel I was tired of pretending that this all felt normal, because it wasn’t normal. I didn’t feel normal. And little did I know that five days later the whole world would shut down and any semblance of normal would disappear for a very long time. For everyone. I would have spent those first few months very differently if I had known.

I have to admit that in the early weeks of the pandemic, I felt pretty good. Helping my kids with learning at home, provided another distraction and a sense of purpose. And as strange as it may sound, there was something comforting about the collective grief that was around me. Although it was for different reasons, it didn’t feel like I was grieving alone. Things didn’t feel normal for anyone. It felt like everyone else was joining me in the feelings that were already very real… grief, uncertainty, nothing feeling like it should be. I had already been there for months.

Our last day of school at MICS – December 2019

I am pretty sure that anyone reading this can say it’s been a challenging few years. It feels like we’ve been flung into perpetual survival mode. On top of all the difficulties the pandemic has brought, the regular challenges of life continue… illness, death, strained relationships, parenting etc. None of it goes away. Sometimes just getting through the day, feels like the accomplishment of a lifetime. There are glimpses of “normal” until we are hit with the next thing. It can be hard to have hope that things will get better. But we keep going.

So what is it like to move from one home you love to another? It’s hard but it’s been mixed up with a whole lot of other hard (and plenty of good in there too) so it’s not easy to know what is what. How do you figure out what’s behind your feelings in any given moment? We never could have anticipated what we were coming home to. It has not been an ideal situation to re-establish community and reconnect with people. There are still some people I haven’t seen yet. Everyone’s emotional reserves are low and we are all doing the best we can. It can feel lonely but there is also an abundance of grace knowing that not many people are doing all that great in this season. Thankfully seasons change. This one just feels like a very long winter.

At the Livingstone Airport for the last time – December 2019

For me, the grief of losing a life I loved is still very real and comes in waves. It turns out you can delay processing loss especially with the help of a global pandemic, but it doesn’t go away and will be waiting when your heart is ready. Knowing this anniversary was coming up, I’ve had several video calls in the last few weeks with dear friends in Zambia. Technology is an incredible gift and although time has passed, I still feel connected to many people who are dear to me. Those conversations are so good for my soul, but are also accompanied with some sadness knowing what (and who) I am missing. 

Those who have been through this transition, know that a part of your heart will always remain in the place you have left. The cost is a heart that will always feel a little broken, but the gain is the incredible privilege of calling two places homes. And it is absolutely worth it. I am forever grateful for our life in Macha and eagerly anticipate the day, hopefully sooner than later, when I can finally return.


4 thoughts on “Two Years Later…

  1. It has been challenging for me too, knowing that I have a sister so dear to me who could give her listening ears whenever I needed them… you are and will always be special in my heart. Thanks to technology which makes it easy for me to be in touch with you dear friend. I will keep hoping and trust God that soon we will see each other once again. Love you always.

  2. Dear Julianne

    It is early morning here in Ireland and I am sitting sipping my coffee while reading your beautifully written letter. Thank you for sharing your heart.

    Heather, Richard, and I (as well as the kids) also moved mid Covid lockdown and the transition continues despite being here for almost two years.

    I love your description of grief and appreciate also that grace is key to survive.

    Many blessings to you and the family. My heart and prayers are with you all.


    Sent from my iPhone


  3. Hi Julianne,Thanks for sharing your heart and the process of returning to Canada and grieving the loss of your time as a family in Macha. Appreciate your honesty here, and also that you could take time to finally reflect. Peace to you and Joel and the boys,Sandy (& Carol)

  4. Thanks so much for the update… connection to others trying to climb out of the pain of loss is comforting.

    Darlene Brisbane

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