Loosing a Loved One When You’re Abroad

Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.

~Khalil Gibran

When you live far away from home, it’s natural to miss family. Every missed cook-out, graduation, and card party creates just a little twinge of home-sickness that I try to mask with my own play dates and soirees. But I never imagined what it would feel like to lose someone while living in another country.

My mother’s sister passed just three days ago at the young age of 50. Her smile and outrageous laugh always lit up the room. Being all the way in Ethiopia, I had to deal with her passing without the physical support of my mother, cousins, aunts, etc. The first night was rough. No amount of wine, television, or internet could take my mind off of the fact that my aunt is no longer here and I will not be celebrating her life at her funeral. I’m also sad I am not there to support my family while replaying the stories about all the good times. It was so rough that I considered skipping my pre-planned trip to Awash National Park to be alone at home.

Grieving alone, however, is not entirely bad. It forced me to sit with that pain and to try to work through the source of that bucket of tears. I realized that taking the trip is exactly what I needed to do. Had I stayed inside, I might have missed that beautiful rainbow that appeared over the savannah just two days after her passing.

Being in nature reminded me of my connection to every termite hill, animal, field of volcanic pumice, waterfall, and dry river bed –all which has always existed– just in another form.  I was reminded that we must all return back to the Earth. I thank my husband for capturing these moments on camera. So I have dedicated this video to my aunt, who I know, does not want me to spend another minute crying.