by Melinda Gallo

Unplanned trip to the US

A month ago while I was in Florence, I received a phone call that you dread when you are an expat. My brother called me to tell me that his wife had passed away. I quickly made plans to return to California as soon as possible so I could arrive a couple of days before my sister-in-lawís service. After living so many years overseas, these calls are the ones that make being an expat difficult. No matter where your loved ones live, you canít always be there so you do what you can. I wish I could spend more time with my loved ones in California, but itís not easy when an ocean separates us (and they donít all live in the same area either).

I just returned to Paris after staying for three weeks in California (first the south and then the north). It was probably one of my longest trips there since Iíve been an expat. I was so fortunate to have spent time with my family especially while the kids were all out of school for the summer. I enjoyed every moment of it, knowing that I had to cherish the time we have together because I would, of course, eventually have to leave.

I haven't been writing on my blog much these past few months ever since I found out about my sister-in-law's health. I wasnít inspired to write about my life in Florence and Paris while my loved one was suffering. Sometimes important events take precedence and we just have to let them do so.

Even though it is difficult for us expats to live our lives overseas and be far from our families, somehow we have to be OK with it. While I was back in California, I discussed with each family member ways for us to stay better connected when I am in Europe. Some like the telephone while others prefer to text. Iím up for any way that works just as long as we can keep in touch. Fortunately, we live in a time when there are now so many ways to keep connected for free that there really is no excuse.

It seems odd to be back in Paris after my long stint in California. I am looking forward to returning home to Florence soon because itís been almost a month since I was there last.

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