Coming home a year early seemed like an easy decision to make in March. Actually, it was easy, my brother was in the end stages of lung cancer and I wanted some time with him before he passed away. I got 16 days, most of them in the hospital, but 16 days nonetheless. I got to tell him about Thailand and the experience of being a Peace Corp Volunteer and he shared some of his feelings about dying so young. Since my condo was rented until July, I lived with Tom and his wife Jane. We co-existed easily and I was able to be helpful in ways that gave me time with Tom and allowed Jane to try to continue to work.
Tom died on March 26th and those first few weeks are a blur. There were so many people in and out, lots of activity to plan a funeral, lots of stress and tears along with sharing memories and laughing together.
Once we had the funeral and things started to settle down a little, I questioned my decision to leave Thailand permanently, rather than taking an emergency leave. I missed life in Ban Soem and compared almost everything here to life there. I missed my PC friends and the chickens and wonderful bi-weekly markets with fruit like none other, the friendly faces, travelling by bus, visiting Bangkok and Nong Khai and feeling comfortable in a foreign country, finally. The first year was so hard and I finally had friends, a house I liked, acceptance in the village and confidence in living there. Here, I was having trouble re-establishing friendships, finding activities to fill the days, feeling displaced in Jane’s home and generally restless.
My struggles have included trying to hold onto the life style I had in Thailand and live in Denver. For me, it has proved impossible. I can no more bring that life here than I could bring this life there 18 months ago. I have had to surrender to the fact that my life is here and it was always going to be here at some point. I have no idea what year 2 would have been like, but I know that I made the right decision. I have developed much closer friendships with my sister-in-law and my nieces and nephew. And the 2 little great nephews never fail to make me smile and laugh.
The rawness of Tom’s death has eased and now the deeper grieving has started and I think it is better to experience that here with family.
I will always treasure my time as a Peace Corp Volunteer in Thailand. It was life changing and I hope with time I will be able to integrate some of the inner growth I experienced there, not the life-style but the values. One of the things I plan for fall is working with refugees, helping them to learn English and make their new life here.
These past 18 months have been some of the most challenging and most rewarding and I feel lucky and blessed with family, experiences and friends
By brother, Tom
Back home in Colorado