It has been a year since the Pandemic started. We went through lockdowns, quarantines, and a neverending fear of catching a deadly virus. It wasn’t until today that it really hit home. I can now truly understand the severity and life-changing experience that it means to the world and my own life.

It is difficult enough to see your loved ones ill, in pain, and isolated. But it gets even worse when you are far away. Like many immigrants, my parents live in my birth country which is Brazil. The virus has been particularly bad there, and from the start, I was worried about them. Because of travel restrictions and the fear of bringing the virus back home to them, I haven’t been there for over a year.

It wasn’t until now when the vaccine finally became available that my parents got ill, both of them at the same time. While my mother is recovering from home, my dad was taken to the hospital to receive oxygen and avoid further complications.

I thought we were finally getting out of this, and now here I am.

My worst fear is that I cannot be there for them in their time of need.

I guess when something like this happens to you, that’s when you start to question if living far from home is the best option. When you decide to move, you leave behind everything you know; your family, your friends, your home. And even if you try to prepare yourself, there is always an adaptation process. The new culture, values, friends. No matter how much you think you’re ready, I can guarantee there is no easy ride.

And then you feel homesick. You miss flavors, smells, your social life, and the confidence of being in an environment that you know too well.

Being an immigrant has always been difficult. While I moved into a privileged circumstance because I had a visa, a home, and a job, life in the U.S. was far from the “American Dream” I once envisioned.

My husband and I were trying to balance two broken families together, and we were not even close to becoming the Brady Bunch. The kids were upset, nobody was ready to be a step-parent, and no children were ready to survive a divorce.

That said, we lived in an upscale suburban area in New York City where we quickly emersed our growing family to the American lifestyle.

While I explored my life in the states, I was trying to build everything new. Sometimes I missed home, but I convinced myself that this was the thing I needed to do.

They say “home is where the heart is,” and right now I feel like my heart is torn in two. Part of me wants to keep my family here in the U.S. safe and healthy, and the other part desperately wants to be back in Brazil with my parents.

So I feel powerless and confused. It is a difficult place to be and if your family also lives far from you I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.

All any of us can do is be as safe as we can and pray that our family and friends do the same. Wherever you are, keep your head up. We are almost through this.

And if you ask me do you regret moving far from the people you love… I will reply to you that I wish I had the answer. It is hard to know if you don’t live through it. Moving to a different country has opened my mind to different possibilities, shaped me into a more tolerant person, and taught me how to be resilient. Sometimes we need to fly away but that doesn’t mean that we will forget who we are and leave the people who we love behind.

Yes, it has been painful and I am taking it one day at a time.

ILANA LIPSZTEIN
Journalist & Entrepreneur
Instagram: @ilana_wip
ilevents2@aol.com