You're 1500 meters up in the cloud forest of northern Peru and you lose a loved one? No one tells you that embarking on the life of a digital nomad also means that people you love may pass from this life without you being nearby. In fact, I doubt that any of us think about it consciously. I know that I didn’t consider the possibility when I left for South America in January 2018.
I was lucky this time. The Internet cooperated on Sunday afternoon and I was able to have a long conversation with my friend, Kevin. We talked about everything, as usual. He had recently finished another semester of his Ph.D. program in epidemiology. We discussed various studies that had been released recently. Kevin, as was his wont, dissected each and every one of them explaining which studies he thought were valid and why. Then he criticized the studies that he believed were sloppy, and therefore useless. I did what I usually do, listened, laughed, and enjoyed how Kevin's mind worked.
We also talked about our upcoming trip together that we planned for the end of the year after his final semester of classes. We were both very excited about seeing each other in Medellin, a city that I'd come to love and that he had never visited. I told Kevin about all of the people I wanted him to meet and the places I wanted him to see.
We shared updates about family, both his and mine. I knew all of Kevin's immediate family and some of his extended family members. He knew my family and had heard about the rest. We spent over an hour on phone talking and catching up. I told him how much I missed and loved him. Kevin missed and loved me too.
I say that I was lucky regarding that conversation because 36 hours later Kevin was gone forever.
His mother sent me a text message to call her on Tuesday morning. I knew that Marie was in Duluth and wondered if something had happened with a family member there. I took a deep breath and called her on FaceTime (hoping along the way that the Internet connection in the cloud forest would cooperate once more). Needless to say, all of Marie's family members in Minnesota were doing well, but her son, Kevin, wasn't.
There I was thousands of miles from everyone I knew or cared about, 1500 meters in the cloud forest, listening to news that a dear friend and someone that I loved very much had passed from this earth. There were no words. I couldn't speak. I struggled to breathe. Tears poured down my face.
Once more, the future that I thought I would have was no more.
Thank the universe (and savvy software developers) for Hangouts,WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger!
I sent text messages to friends with whom I had shared stories about Kevin. They knew about our trip. They knew how much he'd been there for me when my husband died. They understood how much I loved him. I owe huge debts of gratitude to Kim, Wanda, Sara, and Vangile. Without these wonderful, amazing digital nomad ladies (except for Kim who is from home) I might not have weathered the loss of my friend and held together. They were available to chat when I needed to reach out and they have sent kind, thoughtful messages letting me know that they're present and thinking of me as I attempted to incorporate this unexpected event into my life.
No one is guaranteed tomorrow. I get that very well and if you're a digital nomad or thinking about it, you must get it too. Maybe nothing will happen to the important people in your life while you're off on your grand adventure. However, if something does happen, make certain that you can reach out to people who care about you and stay connected by whatever means available. Make sure that you talk about your loved with the people around you. Let them know how much your loved one meant to you . . . and grieve for your lost opportunity to see that person again.
Am I still enjoying my digital nomad life? Absolutely! Even though events occur “back home” that leave me crying? Absolutely! I have no regrets, so far!
Want to talk about thriving with uncertainty into your life and business, reach out and let's have a conversation!