4 days after I moved to Switzerland, I got word that my dad was back in the emergency room with more heart surgery complications. The news was disjointed but he had fainted and hit his head, had an irregular heart beat, and finally his lungs were filled with fluids. He’d be in the hospital for almost the same amount of time as he was for the surgery. Just 4 days and I was already being reminded how hard it is to be away….
So, I did spent the morning crying and moping. I was a bad daughter for not being there with my family when they needed me! Who did I think I was traipsing around having fun times in Europe while the rest of the family had to bear the responsibilities I was shirking? Then I realized I was throwing myself a pity party and cut it off. My dad and I had had many long conversations about my move, the family growing older, and what we all want out of life. My dad insisted that he did not want to hold his children back in life, that he had worked hard to help us build our own lives and happiness. He explicitly stated that while he loved seeing us and having us closeby, he would be unhappy if we left our lives unfulfilled in order to care for an aging parent. So instead of feeling helpless across the globe, I asked myself what I could do from here to make him happy.
The answer was simple: to make this journey worthwhile. To settle in here, be happy here, and make it so that my life was fulfilled and, therefore, his was too. I decided to venture into Zurich by myself for the first time that morning (which consisted of a slightly-confusing bus ride plus a train ride with a transfer!). I found my way to the offices of the American Women’s Club of Zurich (AWCZ) and stopped in with no real plan other than to introduce myself and see what would happen. Turned out, the women were so fabulous at the AWCZ that I stayed for hours and attended an afternoon meeting about how to join the philanthropy work they do. By the time I left, I’d already gotten phone numbers, emails, hiking invitations and a happy hour the next day.
I thought my dad would appreciate the action far more than my inaction that morning. I realized it was easy to worry if I’d made the right decision being away from family, if this was a sign… a test… and constantly live in a state of regret and doubt. That’s when I remembered, I have to re-chose living here in Switzerland and start my new life. No more living in between. And day 4 turned out to be a great step forward for my life here that I won’t forget. So, Dad, thanks for the tacit push towards happiness here. I hope this helped to push you towards happiness, too 🙂