Peace Corps: The Hardest Thing I Face in Leaving Home

When you have your interview with your Peace Corps recruiter, they give you a series of questions. Why do you think you would be right for the Peace Corps? What kind of experience do you hope you’ll achieve after your term as a volunteer? What is the biggest challenge you face in making a two-year commitment with the Peace Corps? That was the question capable of throwing all my plans into whack. What is my biggest challenge? Culture shock, no. No running water or bathrooms, no. Not learning the language fast enough, no. All minor things. The one biggest challenge I face is being so far away from my family. I really have nothing holding me here except that. I am so attached to my parents, something I didn’t quite notice until I made this decision. My brother and sister have lived far away from me for years, and I’ve gotten used to that, but my parents, they only live 45 minutes away and I can see them whenever I feel like it. Lately, its been getting harder and harder to leave when I visit them. I cry every time I drive home from Florence. Tonight, my Aunt Carol decided to make dinner. She made spaghetti, my mom, dad, and her very close friend Tony came over. We ate dinner and sat outside. It was gloomy out like the sky was trying to cry but couldn’t. The air was cooler and the heat was a little less noticeable. After we finished with dinner, we talked, and laughed, and told stories (my dad is great at telling stories). I looked up in a tree where the sun had found a hole in the clouds. It sparkled through the leaves. I closed my eyes for a second and let the wind brush my face. I’ll miss this.

And then I got to thinking.

My Aunt Carol and Uncle Larry In Florida

It was a little over a year ago that my Uncle Larry passed away from a heart attack. I was out having a regular bar time with my friends, halfway through a pitcher of beer. My phone rang and it was my dad’s number. It was 12:30 at night and that thought made my stomach drop. Something was wrong. I answered. “Kel, I have some bad news. Your Uncle Larry had a heart attack. Honey, he didn’t make it.” I lost it, right in the middle of the bar. I got no comfort from the people I was with, maybe they were too sedated. My dad asked me to meet my Aunt Carol at the hospital since I was the closest. I left right away. When I got there I looked anxiously for her. Once I found her, she led me to the room where my Uncle Larry was. I took two steps and fell to the ground at the sight of him. We waited for my mom, dad, and brother to arrive, mostly in silence. Honestly, I can’t remember what conversations my Aunt Carol and I shared. I watched her brush the hair over his face. I softly took his hand and held it, imagining he was holding mine too. I miss him. I miss him so much. And I know he is watching, but I’ve missed him so much at times like this. When I’ve graduated from college, and when I’ve made this great life decision when he couldn’t physically be present. I can only imagine what he would say. How humbly he would smile at me. I was his sweet girl. I still kick myself in the ass for not spending more time with him when he was here. And I know I shouldn’t. I don’t want this post to be sad. I want more than anything to express my gratitude for everyone who has been supportive of me in my past, present, and even future. Missing my family as much I am now, even though I haven’t left yet, reminds me more than ever that I need to do this. If I spend my life holding back in life because I’m afraid to leave my comfort zone, how will I ever grow, experience, and learn? I won’t.

My brother, me, dad, sister, and mother.

I love my family so much and there are so many important people to me its impossible to name them all. So I’m doing all I can to spend time with them whenever I can. I won’t lie. It is a hard task. Even more especially because my best friend of 10 years is having another child and I will miss the first two years of his life (I know its a boy, its no secret!). Detaching from loved ones is not a healthy way to avoid the pain in leaving them, so I’m not choosing that path. Is leaving my family a challenge? Challenge is indeed a very large understatement. It will be one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life. And I won’t just be leaving my parents, but I will be leaving everyone else close to my heart. I am a person who builds bonds with a lot of people and that has always been inevitable. Still, I’m going to join the Peace Corps anyway. Because, like I said in my last post, it is something I feel in my heart I should do. And what good reason do I have to pass up adventure? None.