What doesn’t kill you: expat epiphanies

I’m not a weenie, a wuss, a weak-minded woman. I’ve survived – even thrived – in some fairly adverse circumstances. But, quite honestly, being an expat, a “trailing” spouse, a foreigner– can be precarious in the best of times. As the holiday season begins, as families consider going over the river and through the woods…well…for this expat, it’s all downhill from there!

I’m sure the weather here in Luxembourg (rain, rain, and more rain) doesn’t lift my spirits, nor did my husband’s extended-at-the-last-minute trip to the U.S. last week. Being alone in another country continent is plain odd. I’ve lived places in the past besides my home town, but it was with my husband AND children, so that when Mark traveled, I had the kids keeping me spinning, paired with the comfort of their “I know, Mom,” mantras. Then, as the kids (mostly) grew up and left us, I had the routine of my job, the camaraderie of coworkers, and the congregation of my church to keep time flying. Now the days are long, daylight is short, and my heart is a bit cold in relation to being away from my…relations.

Thanksgiving is drawing nigh. In the United States. There is no Thanksgiving holiday in Luxembourg, though a smattering of celebrations can be found. Here, turkeys must be ordered (and may not fit in the small ovens), canned pumpkin is nowhere in sight, and Thursday is just another day at the office (or home alone in the apartment)! There will be no kiddos stumbling downstairs and into the kitchen, no offspring sniffing the air and asking “what time are we eating?” There will be no Scattergories or Settlers of Catan or Macy’s parade while I prep and cook and watch the family fun. There is, however, a rehearsing of gratitude, a chorus of gratefulness. My dear husband and I have a strong, affectionate marriage–we enjoy each other’s company. We have four (our dear daughter-in-law makes 5!) children who are accomplished, kind, funny people. We have the cutest grandson in the world, who is learning integrity and compassion from his parents. I survived sepsis, the illnesses of and death of a parent and parent-in-law,  breast cancer, an exile to Georgia (the state), and vacuuming around dead people in a funeral home–our home–for over 2 years. We’ve (Mark is a willing and wise participant) stumbled through all this and more, regained our footing, and continued to wait on that “peace that transcends all understanding.”

This is a wonderful place to live, a once-in-a-lifetime-experience to garner. BUT it’s not easy–to live/work/drive/shop here, to be away from our kids and extended family, to work in an environment where English is spoken only when necessary, to have no friends (yet) who know us deeply and love us anyway. BUT again–we thank our God every time we remember you. In all our prayers for all of you, we always pray with joy. Thus says the Apostle Paul in Philippians. This Thanksgiving, I’m sticking with him.



5 thoughts on “What doesn’t kill you: expat epiphanies

  1. Oh, Diana, I love that you can be honest and transparent with us. (sounds like I’m in a counseling session… ) You and Mark have been great examples/friends to me and you continue to be. I’m learning from you, even now. I second the comments of Anonymous above: May your heart and Mark’s be at rest this Thanksgiving. Love you both!


  2. I love your comments, Diana. Every season of our lives is unique-you are embracing this with Mark, honestly sharing your heart about your struggles, and focusing upward trusting for HIS peace. May your heart and Mark’s be at rest this Thanksgiving.


  3. Oh, Diana! We miss you dearly! I admire your strength and ability to see the bright side. You have survived and experienced SO MUCH. I had no idea you lived in a funeral home! Wow! I could NEVER do that, but then again, how do you know what you can truly DO until you do it??? You are amazing. Thinking of you and sending you a HUGE hug!


  4. I hear you and feel your adventure and loneliness! I love how you share all your thoughts, well maybe not all! Praying for you each step of the way.


  5. Diana, you are in my heart and my prayers. I know from AJ that living in a different country is exhilarating and full of every day adventures but so distressing when it comes to holidays. He has many stories, especially from Thanksgiving about living as an expat. I admire your courage and willingness to share this journey with others through your blog. Know that I am only a FB message away if you need me. You, and Mark, are Nick’s second set of parents and we love that! Happy Thanksgiving, my friend. I give special thanks this year that it is you, and Mark, who are showing the world what Americans are really like: kind, compassionate, loving, aware of the presence of God, and that you have a sense of humor!

    Liked by 1 person

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