Last update 02/23/2013

Peruvian chica back in Peru part 1: Family

While I was unable to travel to my country for two years I lived each of my family’s special occasions through Facebook. Looking at their photos of our usual Sunday breakfasts or family parties, permit me feel that some sort of way I was there with them in all these festivities and special occasions.

Being away from those who you loved, and with no chance to see them because they are in another town, city, country, or continent (like in my case) can be painful, especially when you feel lonely, had bad day at work, get sick, or just want to have a talk with someone who really knows you and can give you a good advice.

Things get tougher when I learned that my family was going through hard times. It was very hard for me to cope with the fact I was so far away. When my mother got diagnosed an illness, my grandfather and grandmother were hospitalized, my best friend’s father passed away and other sad moments,I felt frustrated and upset because I couldn’t do anything to make them feel better.

Not only that, seeing at my two nieces and nephews growing up so fast and getting better at their school plays gave me that nostalgic feeling of losing the most important moments of these children lives. You will probably think that I’m being over dramatic but to some of us, nephews and nieces are like your first kids. You learn to love them like they were yours and in my case, my brother’s and sister’s children were like my own.

Another thing that hit me hard over the past two years of absence was the fact that I wasn’t there for my best friend’s (who is like a sister to me) during happy and rough moments of her live. I wasn’t with her the day she gave birth, but to my good fortune she made me the Godson of her first child. But when I really felt I should have been there but I wasn’t able to was when her dad passed away.

Many times I thought, how can you show all these people that mean the world to you how much you love them being so far away? By letters, emails, phone calls? I feel that I just missed so many things and sending an email o calling them was not enough. I’m not trying to be narcissistic and say that without me they are not ok. It’s has more to do with the fact that I felt guilty for not just been there for them, at least to show my love and support.

I think the anxiety and overwhelming feeling I talked about on my previous post came because all this guilt some way was vanishing away. My brain understood that it was finally time to put all the frustration in the past and it was time to enjoy the present. It was definitely an overload of emotions, I was finally going to be able to reunite with them.

This is why I promised myself that during this trip I was going to treasure the moments with my beloved grandparents who I knew years were coming down the road and only God knows how many more years we can have them with us. Enjoy a good talk with my parents, not ask them for anything, but to give them everything. My time, my affection, even take them out and just let them enjoy what I worked so hard for. Have a quality time with my brother, sister and best friend, who I believe are the ones who miss me the most. And finally, witness how amazingly smart and cute my nephews, nieces and godson are!

The reunion:

When I first saw my grandparents, brother and father I burst into tears (yes, I cry a lot) but immediately we started talking about how life was and I felt good knowing that my grandma (who has a very peculiar personality) told me I look the same (She would usually tell me I look fat or something, not this time! Ahh what a relief!)

My sister was going to meet us at the “chicharroneria” with the kids. When they arrived I hid and as soon as I screamed SURPRISE! the 5 of them (sister and 2 nieces and nephews) came to give me a group hug that probably lasted 5 minutes. I felt the love and I realized that my fear of being forgotten by the kids disappeared. None of the kids wanted to stay away from me. I was amazed!

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Previous to my trip I wrote an email to my sister, brother and best friend with the itinerary of my 12 day stay in Lima. I know they are busy people, each of them have great careers and usually don’t have time for anything during weekdays but I told them they must take time for me. And they did! They say you should never expect much from anyone but I had hopes that my family and best friend were never going to backtrack on me, and they never did!

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I also took advantage of my time in Lima to let my family know about my new business venture. I was scared at their opinions since most of them expect me to be working at a big company in NYC. Telling everyone I was starting my new travel consulting company made me feel nervous but in one of our dinners I decided to give a speech. To my surprise everyone got really happy, there were no negative comments, on the other hand, everyone showed me their support and admiration. I think this was the peak of my trip, you may be asking why? The reason is that my gradnma, who has always being my biggest critic, interrupted me to say a few words which I always remember “I’m proud of you”. Not even in a million years I would expect to hear that coming out of her mouth, it definitely made my entire trip a success!

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No, she is not a mean grandma, she is just a very judgemental and traditional (very old school) person. We have had more than one encounter in the past. Ever since I move here she was very tough on me, always criticizing my decisions and I tried to say it didn’t affect me, but it did. After she said how proud she was, we had a talk and I finally understood that she just cares so much for me that she felt she had to be my biggest critic in order to make me strive for the best.

What I’ve learned:

In this trip, I’ve learned that things always change. Specially when you are away, people change, grow, move on, go in another direction, etc. But definitely the unconditional love of the family always remains. It didn’t matter I was away for 2 years and wasn’t taking my seat at the table on our casual Sunday breakfasts, for them it was like I never left.

All this time that I’ve been feeling guilty, afraid of being forgotten, or that things weren’t going to be the same once I get back. Al this was just not true, reality was that once you are gone, those people who really care for you are willing to get out of their way to show you their love, support and gratitude once they have you around them again. I finally understood that I wasn’t the only one suffering while I was away, yes they all have their own lives but they missed me as much as I missed them. Although for 2 years we were separated by hundreds of miles, we always have had each other in our hearts and minds! And that’s something that will never change!

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The Author
Vanessa Ponce

Join me as I take you through my NYC life experiences as a Peruana immigrant, while exploring what the big apple has to offer for locals and visitors. Learn about my world travels, stories of people doing great things, community support initiatives, and more!

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