distance and relationships

I think the way distance can affect relationships is one of the hardest parts of being here. I miss being able to just call my grandparents. I miss getting phone calls from them. Sunday is usually our day to connect, so I miss their voices the most on Sundays. But I also miss the surprise calls we give one another throughout the week.

Technology makes it easier to connect — and my grandparents are pretty up-to-date with technology — but it’s harder to get in touch with someone when they have to be at their computer and logged into X app versus simply dialing their phone number, it ringing and them picking up the phone.

I miss talking with my grandparents. I miss talking with them because I know time is precious and that it’s not slowing down. I miss talking with them because they’re a constant in my life. I miss talking with them because it is easy; it comes naturally; it is support. I miss talking with them because when we talk the world seems to stand still.

I miss talking with them because I know they like to hear what their grandchildren are up to, and I like to hear what they’re up to. They keep busy most days, but I also like hearing about the most mundane tasks in their lives. I like talking with them because I like knowing how they’re doing, I like hearing how they’re doing and I like picturing them as they go about their day.

I miss talking with them while I’m driving in my car on the way to or from work or on my way home from a Saturday morning surf. I miss talking with them while walking up Russell Street to my favorite cafe on a weekend afternoon. I miss giving them a glimpse into my day, filling them in on the details of what I’m doing.

But more than anything, I miss talking with them because it is love. Because talking with them and being with them fills me up in a way I cannot describe.

I realize this feeling of “full” when I’m home in northern Michigan. When I catch a moment to myself and am able to reflect on just how content I am, the feeling of full often overwhelms me. It has to do with place, but more than that, it has to do with the people in that place and the way the two together — people and place — make me feel. My heart overflows with love.

I most recently experienced that feeling when I was back home in Michigan just before I moved to Argentina. The Thursday after my grandpa had a heart procedure, I drove from Crystal Lake to the hospital in Traverse City to spend the day with my grandpa, grandma, mom, uncle and aunt. It was early in the morning on a late autumn day. The air was cool, and the sun was beginning to peek through the misty morning.

As I drove down US-31 in my grandparents’ gray Geo Tracker, “Forever Country” — a mashup of “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” “On the Road Again” and “I Will Always Love You” — came on the radio. As I listened to the lyrics of the songs and appreciated the beauty of where I was (on a country road in my favorite place during one of the most beautiful times of the year going to spend the day with people I love), I was overcome with immense feelings of love, gratitude, joy, content … all the good things.

On US-31, somewhere between Honor and Interlochen, I fully recognized how good my life was for the people, places and things that mattered most. My cup runneth over, and I felt as though my heart was going to burst. My eyes filled with tears, and I couldn’t keep them from rolling down my cheeks.


I love my grandparents, my parents, my sister, my pets, my extended family and the people I’m blessed to call friends in more ways and for more reasons than I can possibly list here. Life is about community, and I feel fortunate to be surrounded, supported, challenged and loved by the best of the best. I know this, and yet I continue to learn that lesson in various ways every day, especially now that I’m living on an entirely different continent. Distance makes the heart grow fonder, and I definitely see the truth in that thousands of miles away from the people (and places) I love.

In the absence of a phone conversation with my grandparents on Sunday, these are the thoughts and words that came tumbling out. My grandparents mean the world to me. In fact, their global travels are a major piece of inspiration in pursuing my own adventures. I love them; I miss spending time with them; and I miss talking with them and sharing updates on my life down here with them regularly.

December 7, 2016

6 thoughts on “distance and relationships

  1. priscilla kennedy

    Emily, what a thoughtful grand-daughter you are and what joy you have brought to their lives. There really is such a bond with your grandchildren that is hard to explain and I know I would be so proud if any of mine would think of me in the same way you have so beautifully expressed.

  2. Sandra Hopcian

    Did you get my last comment? I wanted to say that this a lovely tribute and that we love you from Michigan You allow our world to widen when we see your new home through your eyes. Merry Christmas.There is lots of snow here and very cold.

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