As April was coming to an end, I was so excited to enjoy Seville’s Feria de Abril, a weeklong fair that brings together the whole city for dancing, drinking, food and carnival rides. My countdown to go back home had begun, and all I wanted was to enjoy my last three weeks in Spain before being pulled back into reality. That Saturday, I went out with friends to watch the alumbrado, or the lighting of the fair’s entrance to mark the beginning of the festivities. I was ready to have a week off of school that was relaxing, so the next morning it was a complete shock to see messages from my family letting me know that my mom was in the emergency room with an unknown illness.
Dealing with any family emergency is hard, but it is significantly harder when you realize that you are thousands of miles away from home and that if the situation worsens, there is no guarantee that you could make it on time. Given the nine hour difference between Seville and San Francisco, I also had to wait practically a whole day to receive any updates about my mom’s condition. I was in a weird state of mind, not fully understanding or accepting what was going on, so while I waited for more news I focused on my school work as a necessary distraction. The following days were mixed with phone calls with my sister and preparing to go on a short trip to Portugal with a few friends. I felt guilty that while my mom was suffering and my sister was stressing out and missing classes, I was halfway across the world planning beach vacations and fairs as if nothing was happening. The thing was, regardless if I went to Portugal or not, there was nothing I could do to help, and not going would mean losing the money I’d already pitched in.
As it turns out, going on that trip was what I needed most at that moment. My friends quickly noticed my frequent phone calls, and a quick conversation with them about what was happening helped me get the support I needed to get through the next few days. While we were at the beach, for just a few hours time slowed down. It was too early in the morning in California for me to expect any updates, so for the first time in days I allowed myself to turn off my data and set my phone down so I could really focus on the present moment and enjoy the company I had.
Soon enough, my mom had surgery and was quickly discharged. All was going well, my boyfriend had come to visit for the weekend and we all went back to the fair with my friends. I breathed a sigh of relief knowing that everything was okay, until it wasn’t. My mom had to be readmitted to the hospital due to minor complications, and all the stress and anxiety of the past days finally caught up to me. I felt that it was too much to be away from home, and I was ready to go back to the United States that same day. Suddenly, I wanted nothing to do with Spain, I just wanted to make sure my loved ones were okay. With the ongoing support of those around me, I took a quiet moment for reflection while I was alone, remembering all of my mixed feelings from these past two months. It felt like as soon as I had fully settled into life in Spain, there was now a disruption that made studying abroad so difficult. The only option I had was patience, to hope for the best outcome and try my best to enjoy these last few days. I’m grateful to say that my mom is fine and in recovery, something that lifts a great weight off of my chest. These next 6 days will feel long, but soon enough, I’ll be reunited again with my loved ones.