Four years ago I received great news. I’d been trying for a travel nurse job in Hawaii. I wasn’t in a rush, I had a great job in a wonderful town. After many calls with recruiters, I landed a job on Maui.
As I did with all big news, I called my mom in my hometown of Nanaimo, BC. She was over the moon and asked if she could spread my good news to our family and friends. Knowing this would be a real treat for her, I agreed. She lived a very simple life at that point. Politics on TV and coffee in the morning with porridge then maybe an event with one of my sisters. A small trip to the grocery store was the extent of most of her outings.
I remember our chat was really sweet. She was relieved I had finally arrived at her version of settled. I had a good job, a steady relationship and the opportunity to go to Hawaii. We didn’t always get along. We were very different and both had difficulty talking about feelings at times of stress. It made for many terrible and sad arguments.
In fact about a year before that day, I broke up with her. We had a big argument early in a visit. Instead of shutting up and being angry, I stopped. I told her, ‘I love you and I have to go. I’m sorry our visit ended this way.’ She and I tearfully hugged and I took the four-hour trip back home.
When I got back home, I walked in and said, ‘I’m breaking up with Mom’ to my then boyfriend. He said ‘you can’t do that’ to which I responded ‘I can and I did’. Almost a month passed before my mom and I started to talk. We didn’t address the fight. Instead we were more careful with each other. We had better boundaries and in the end, a better relationship. I even enjoyed our later visits.
With Mom spreading the news, I started to ready myself to move to Maui. I notified my job, made plans for people to watch our home and gave my friend my car for the time I was gone. My boyfriend planned to stay a few weeks later and follow me over when all the arrangements were done.
Two weeks before we left, around Thanksgiving, I received a call from one of my sisters. She said ‘I have bad news’.
I said, ‘say it’.
The world changed. I’m told I just said curse words but I can’t remember what I said. It’s a blur. I had a choice to make after that call. Stay home and change all my plans or move to Maui in mid tragedy. I went to Maui. People were confused when I said my mom had just died. Why would I go when my mother just passed away?
I went because my mom was so excited and I didn’t want to disappoint her. I went because I lived hours away from my family and only visited a few times a year and, I didn’t know what else to do.
It was hard to live in Hawaii. It’s tough to be the new guy here. The locals are very sweet when you get to know them but have grown weary of the constant turnover of people. Just imagine how hard it would be to work with folks for 3 or 6 months then say goodbye, only to get a whole new crew the next week. It makes for some defensive folks. I didn’t always feel welcome but managed to meet new friends. Some of the locals were great and I occasionally hear from them.
There are two people who I’d still call for a visit or adventure, Katie and Laurel.
Katie was a fellow travel nurse on Maui. She invited me along to enjoy several fun get-togethers on the island. Favorite Katie saying is, ‘an invitation doesn’t cost a thing’. Since leaving Maui, we’ve gone camping and done some just-for-fun traveled to Portugal, Hong Kong and Thailand. She’s up for almost anything. Love her.
Laurel also travel nursed on Maui. She and I managed to spend tons of time swimming, floating and talking on Maui. She made me talk about my Mom all the time. I would beg her to stop but she made me do it anyway! And I felt better. I would make her dinner and she brought beer. So, of course, my ex and I loved her. Of course I still love this girl. Just snuck in a visit with her over the summer. So wonderful.
I almost stayed home. I almost listened to people who said don’t go. Or why go now? But it was the right thing in my heart. It was me doing ‘me’. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed much of my time on Maui. I had a lovely place to live.
And…. it was challenging. And… I learned a ton. I’m a better nurse. I gained some great friends and came out more confident….and a bit less sad. Four years later, as I write this I find myself tearing up. Love you Mom. Miss you and your weird phone messages.
Takeaway. Do the thing that is right for YOUR heart. People might think you’re crazy or heartless. They might judge you. Let the well-meaning Judgey McJudgerson’s do their thing.
Do you. People dig that s–t.