One of the things I’ve learned over the past 20 years of being in, and away from, Ireland, is that you can never go back.

We used to spend 4 years overseas then a year in the States travelling for work.
The separate years we spent away from Ireland are the only times I’ve ever been homesick. As necessary and relatively short as it was, I hated the thought of leaving my life, my work and my friends there.

You learn quickly – time doesn’t stand still for the friends and folk you leave. A simple concept, one that’s obvious and known yet not quite believed until it’s done the first (or second!) time. Life goes on and you miss a year of it. Weddings, births, deaths, challenges, joys. You hear of it only through communication devices, not face to face with hugs and shared tears.

So, you go back. But you don’t go back. You don’t pick up where you left off. You don’t slot back in where you were. You reinvent. You create a place. You appreciate where everyone is, not look to where they were. It’s something you learn to adapt to. You learn to embrace grieving and let it work through you, to not fight against it.
The coolest thing I discovered from the times we were required to be back in the States was the opportunity to take a step back from Life. What at first was a hassle and a sacrifice to leave, became a chance to take stock of my life and my doings. From: why am I not still there in the thick of things, To: what do I want to do Next Time? I realised that it was a gift that not many people receive in life. I still missed “home” but I knew that what awaited me when I returned was largely up to me.
Sure, you can never go back. You have to move forward.

John P – Since what I USUALLY see of you, is a rowdy troublemaker hurling objects and jests through the morning air at the bookstore, it’s easy to forget that you are quite wise and grounded. In the real world I’m most likely to hit you with a balled up sock. But here in cyberspace I’ll say, “you rock.”

Victoria –  Well, you can come back here. The folks back in Orange wish you’d come back! We’ve all changed a bit but inside, we all love you the same!

Sarah – Well said.

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