Published: September 11th 2010September 11th 2010
My grandpa died on Wednesday. He died peacefully in his home in a suburb of Boston. I wasn't there. I was in my apartment in Bangkok; some 8000 miles away from him.
Months ago I got word he was sick again. We had no real guesses of how much longer he had. I weighed my options. Should I fly to Boston to see him once more? Should I continue traveling? Should I head to Boston when things seem to be declining? Or do I just continue on and not leave Asia at all?
I decided on the last option; to continue on traveling. I wasn't there when he died, and I won't be at the funeral. I wish I had been there for both.
It's upsetting to be so far away from family right now. We're all dealing with this on our own, strewn across the US and me in SE Asia. Most days I love being where I am and practicing retirement at the age of 25. But in recent days all I've wanted is to be home in the crisp fall air of the Northwest. In a couple of days when things settle down I'll be
back to enjoying my time in Bangkok.
I did visit my grandpa in February right before I left for this trip when he was healthy and enjoying life, as much as an 86-year-old can. We watched the Winter Olympics together, ate jelly beans on Valentine;s Day that he said would make him fat, went through slide shows of his days at the deer club. We went out for breakfast where he dressed up for the big outing in a gray sweatshirt with a grizzly bear on it, tucked into his khaki pants. My grandpa was fashion-forward. He observed my impeccable skill at completing jigsaw puzzles, and he swore at the television for never having anything on worth watching. And I agreed. I was concerned about taking time off work and a gap in pay of trying to fund this trip to go visit my grandparents, but I'm forever grateful I did.
I'll never know if my decision to not return home to see my grandpa one more time was the correct one. Those decisions don't have a right or wrong answer. I picked one and chose to be OK with that decision. I spent a month falling more
deeply in love with Japan than I did when I visited last year. I wandered the streets of Tokyo until sunrise and then laid down for bed to experience the jarring of an earthquake. Now I can really say I've lived in Japan and all that it entails. I celebrated my birthday with what felt like a million other people in an enormous water fight on the streets of Bangkok in between a horrible political situation. I survived the mosh-pit crowds of the Chinese bun festival in Hong Kong. I wandered into the remote rainforests of Borneo and saw creatures that looked alien and now here in Bangkok I've enjoyed life more than I have in the past several years combined.
I'm happy and proud of what I've done on this trip. But when I think over these adventures I include my grandfather passing away during this time, and I wasn't there. The next time I visit my grandparents he won't be there. Last week one of my closest friends gave birth to a beautiful baby girl I can't wait to meet. The ebb and flow of life has continued without me in the six months I've been gone.
Travel is a wonderful thing that has taught me more about myself than any other medium I've encountered. I love the journey I'm on. But sometimes home is nice too.
There are more photos below