About two weeks ago, I received an urgent message from my parents stating that I needed to call them as soon as possible. I did so immediately, and I couldn’t believe what I heard.
My grandpa had passed away the night before.
It was something I feared when I decided to study abroad. My mom kept reminding me that anything can happen to anyone at any time, and I had to be aware that of that in making this journey. I always shrugged her counsels off, convincing myself that nothing could possibly go wrong while I was away.
However, a week into my trip I received the news that my grandpa was in the hospital back in Illinois, and my mindset faltered. He had suffered several silent heart attacks, his kidneys were failing and his overall health was deteriorating. Day after day, my family updated me on his condition, and from what I was told, his situation seemed to be improving. I was able to sleep easy at night and once again convinced myself that there was absolutely no way anything dire would happen.
Until I received that message.
Handling the situation—while abroad, while away from my family, while essentially alone—has been immensely difficult. Between costs, time and school, flying home for the funeral was out of the question. While my family joined together to grieve, I felt stuck and alone, unsure of how to accept what happened without them by my side.
Yet I learned about the necessity and comfort of communication and a support system. Technology made it easy to keep in touch with my parents, brother and sister throughout it all. Friends from home and from IU sent their condolences in Facebook messages and emails and offered to Skype me when I needed to. And what touched me most is the fact that people who I met just a few weeks prior here in Peru banded together to make sure I was okay.
No matter how lonely you may feel, no matter how far away from home you are, you are never actually alone. And that is a wonderful thing.