I read your message with some sadness: to hear of disillusionment and dashed dreams is disheartening to me. And yet, I completely understand your decision and know that many others have made the same decision.
I am very interested in the story of migration of my own family. I don’t know why they came to Canada, when, what it was like for them, their struggles, or the decisions they made. So I started doing some research into my family history. I discovered a family living in my city, that had the same last name as one of our family names. I contacted them, and eventually connected with a lawyer who had a book of their family history. Although I have no direct link to this family, I read their story with interest.
The story talks about the old world, what was happening at the time, and the journey of passage: raising funds to travel, and then the voyage. It gives details of their travels across Canada in the early 1900’s. There was a family they were intending on meeting in Alberta. And after a very long journey they finally arrived at the homestead of the family they were looking so forward to meeting. As they looked at the little shack, on the seemingly barren land, covered in snow, with the nearest neighbour so very far away, even the hearts of the men failed them. They had come all of the way for this?
And yet, they could not afford the passage back home. Nor could they put their families, wives and children, through what they had just gone through. They had to find something within themselves, to overcome the disenchantment, disillusionment and their broken hearts. Then they had to make a decision, a united decision, to get through this together. With the support of the community, they were able to make it and now, generations later, their family is well established. Didn’t my daughter come home with excitement when her substitute teacher had the very same last name: belonging to this family!
Although they are not my family, at least I have not found the link, their story moves me. Their courage strengthens me. Their solidarity brightens my soul.
I think about them and all the migrants I meet through CELBANPrep. I think about how much more accessible travel is, and how much easier it is to go home. I think of my friend, who was a vet back home. At first she was one of my clients, but since then we have become very good friends. Over the years she has struggled with the decision you have made: should I go home? She was well established there. They had a great practice, and were part of a community. And she was making a difference in the world. She was so well respected. Yet here, she had so many struggles and trials. Even after getting her license she could not get a job. It was so very disheartening.
But now, she is a practicing vet, working in an emergency clinic where her love for animals, her compassion for them, and her skills and knowledge are being put to use. She is finally living her dream.
But I can tell you, M, that the blessing for me is that she is my friend and she was here for me when my daughter died. Having known her and spent time with us in our home and in her home our relationship strengthened. And the love and support I received from her in my moment of need, having supported her in her moments of need: that is eternal. One of her daughters got up to speak at my daughter’s memorial and she touched my heart so deeply, so did the words they wrote in the cards they gave to me.
It is interesting, to me, that it is because of struggles that I have formed such deep bonds with people, enjoying rich relationships beyond anything I could have imagined or experienced without those struggles: theirs or mine.
Before I end I want to share a poem I have come to love:
I met a stranger in the nightWhose lamp had ceased to shine.I paused and let him lightHis lamp from mine.
A tempest sprang up later onAnd shook the world about.And when the wind was goneMy lamp was out!But back to me the stranger came—His lamp was glowing fine!He held the precious flameAnd lighted mine!
Lon Woodrum, “Lamps,” The Lighted Pathway, Oct. 1940, 17.
I don’t know where you are most needed, or where it is best for you to be planted. But I do know that the best decisions I have made are ones that have been made when my body, mind, heart and spirit agree. And I have learned that when I am hungry, angry, lonely or tired (H.A.L.T) that that is not the best time for me to make a decision. Regrets often come when I make decisions guided by pain or fear.
So I share these stories with you, not to encourage you in one direction or the other but I guess to say that when we focus on what we have not achieved we tend to miss all of the blessings that surround us: the gifts that have been given to sustain us.
Life is not easy. Disease, illness, death, unemployment, underemployment, abuse, addiction, violence: they plague our society, our people. Everyone is being impacted by one thing, or another, or many, at any moment in time. It is in these moments that we build character, that we discover who we are, and that define us. It is in these moments that we find true depth in our relationships with our friends.
I leave these thought with you, to touch your heart, to move you, and to remind you that you are not alone.
Because at the end of the day your happiness is paramount, and I want to get an email from you, some time in the future, telling me about your happiness and how you found it.