Hardest goodbyes – By @helenapelsmae
By Helena Pelsmaekers
After 4 months living away from home, I was finally able to meet again with everyone dear to me. But it’s a lot harder to come back than I imagined. Why I didn’t go back earlier is because I was afraid this was going to be the feeling I would be stuck with when I would return from home to SCA during first term. I saw this happening with a few people in our group. They were struggling with homesickness not before they left but when they returned. At SCA, everything feels a bit like a dream, that the time at home stands still and when you would come back everything and everyone would still be the same.
And now at home, SCA feels distant. I couldn’t work on any Christmas assignments yet. It’s not my regular procrastination that is to blame. It is fed by guilt. Guilt of having been away for 4 months and missing out on spending time with my grandmother when she was still vivid enough, who couldn’t recognize me last week when I visited her in the hospital. It’s starting to slowly come back now I spend time with her each day for a few hours and telling her stories about us from before she got Alzheimer’s. With our whole family we manage to never leave her alone during visitation hours by alternating and it has brought us, slightly alienated relatives, back together.
And it lets me appreciate the time I spend with my grandfather even more now. Checking up on him every hour, spending the evening next to him on his couch watching telly with a way too high volume, or him asking for help with something after messing it up himself and having to fix it has never made me happier than now. Even though it means I have to fix the same things again every day. Plus I’m learning a lot about water pumps and keyholes and how a coffee machine looks like from the inside. For some people grandparents are in a way not the same as parents, but having them live next to us our entire lives, having seem them every day for 23 years, it’s a huge impact to suddenly realize it’s not going to stay that way.
It definitely feels selfish to have left, and having let everyone deal with the problems while I was able to fully focus on something else and not having to carry any burden. And when I leave to go back to London, it does feel like I’ll have to say goodbye to my grandmother and who knows my grandfather for the last time, which makes it even harder to leave. Until now I’ve not yet dealt with any relative passing away, but the fear is getting bigger and I’m dreading it. I think I made more photos, audio recordings and videos the past few days than in the entire year.