03 Jun

What Happens If The Worst Happens?

What would you do if something happened to your family? That’s one of the first questions people ask when they learn that we travel long term.

Our answer has always been that we would return home should ever the need arise. That we live a life that affords us the opportunity to be anywhere and that includes where ever we may need to be.

We haven’t lived near our hometowns, or families, for quite some time even before we chose a life of travel. In fact, our new travel life has only improved our situation in this regard. We can pick up and leave at a moments notice; being where we need to be without worry of job security, time constraints, or, for the most part, funding considerations.

It means that, for us, the ‘what happens if the worst happens?’ question is better answered now than it ever was.

Which is fortunate because we now find ourselves in a position to have to answer the question directly.

We learned last week that a family member is ill and so we have left Chiang Mai and returned to Canada. Although we are terribly sad that our summer plans have changed so drastically, we are also relieved to be able to return to help out where needed.

It’s an interesting emotional journey to get here. I’ll be honest here because the ‘what happens if the worst happens’ question deserves it.

After the shock of learning that a loved one is ill enough to warrant our return we sat on it for a day or so. We had made flight arrangements, managed leaving our apartment early, canceled rental agreements we had made for the summer, and withdrew from job competitions; all the stuff that needed immediate attention. And then we just didn’t tell anyone.

Telling people would make it real and, somehow, I just wasn’t ready yet. We needed to grieve a bit; feel sorry for ourselves and let the sadness find its place. So we moped a bit, had a few drinks too many, and got ready to meet it all head on.

It’s not selfish to do so. It’s reality. Often there can be guilt around thinking of ourselves; I think that’s bullshit. I don’t want to, and won’t, wallow in it but there is a place for grieving for what would have been, for realizing what you’re losing, and for coming to terms with the situation. And then it’s time to pull on the big-girl panties.

We’re here now, in Canada, getting ready for what might come, grateful that we can continue with our projects where ever we are, and proud of ourselves for being in a position to be able to help.

It goes to show that the one question that is often a hurdle for people actually has an answer that should remove the hurdle.


26 thoughts on “What Happens If The Worst Happens?

  1. Even though I didn’t live far when the WORST happened to me, it was still something I kept quiet as long as I could only because you only have so much energy to use and you use it for necessity. I completely understand your thinking. I am sorry you had to make such drastic changes, but you’re right–when it comes down to it, you’re just glad you can do anything. Sending you both lots of love and good thoughts.
    Carmel recently posted..MY UNDERWATER FEARFUL ADVENTURE

    • Thanks Carmel. I know that you, and your family, have faced great tragedy and I know that such events can either make one want to hide or bolster ones confidence in realizing that we all only have one very short life. The journey you and Shawn are about to embark on is a great testament to living life to the fullest.
      Gillian @OneGiantStep recently posted..What Happens If The Worst Happens?

  2. Gillian, whatever it is, I will keep you and Jason and your families in my thoughts. I get scared over “what if the worse happens” but, like you, it is comforting to know that if (really, when) it does, I will be able to take the time to be helpful and present. Much love to you guys.
    Kim recently posted..Sit still and let happiness find you

  3. Gillian ,that was beautiful. I love the bit about feeling sorry for yourself and that is ok. Know that your decision to come home and be there has also helped Kevin and I immensely. Knowing You and Jason are there doing what you do best ! I know first hand how wonderful you guys were when I was going through my own illness.

  4. Sorry to hear this Gillian. As always I love that you talk openly and honestly about traveling and the “real life” situations that can and do occur, as well as all the emotions that go with them. My thoughts are with you guys. Not sure where you are in Canada, but if there is anything I can help you with, let me know.
    Audrey recently posted..A Little Beach Time In Parksville B.C.

  5. Family first. You’re fortunate to be in a situation that you can drop what you’re doing and just be where you need to be. Many people living conventional lifestyles can’t say the same.

    … and if you’re coming through SK this summer…

    Hope you’re well.
    Dustin recently posted..A Do It In a Dress Update

  6. I think this is what they mean when they say “life happens while you are waiting for a plan to unfold” AND, the biggest regrets in life are not the things you’ve done, but rather the things you haven’t. You will always be able to look back from this decision in the next (adventurous) chapter in your life and know that you did the right thing. Special thoughts to you both at this difficult time.

  7. So sorry to hear that the reason you are home is not for a happy circumstance. My heart goes out to you and we’re sorry that you and your family are going through a difficult time.

  8. Gillian, I really admire just how candid and open you are on this site. I don’t think many people would admit that in giving up their plans to return home that there were moments of sadness and regret in it, as most of us would just shrug and say that family comes first and suck it up. But you are absolutely right that you didn’t choose to go home, certainly not under these circumstances, and although you are grateful to be in the position to be able to return to your family when needed, there is still sadness (not to mention all the stress) in your own plans needing to take a back seat for now.

    I hope that everything works out and that everyone you love winds up healthy in the coming months.
    Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) recently posted..Coming Home in Taipei

    • Thanks Steph. As much as travel isn’t all unicorn and rainbows, doing the right thing isn’t always easy. I feel that if I can be transparent then others, who may be experiencing the same feelings, can realize that it’s normal.

  9. Miss Gillian,
    You must know how much I appreciate this particular post. The honesty and integrity in writing about your personal challenges is a gift to all of us. Keep up the good work.


  10. I truly admire your openness in writing this post and I do pray that all will be well with you and your loved ones. Making the right decision to face what the future brings, no matter how difficult it may be, is one of life’s hardest lessons.
    Barbara recently posted..Pompeii, Italy – The Lost City

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