“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Vancouver International Airport. Our local time is 2 o’clock in the afternoon and the temperature is 3 degrees Celsius. For your safety…..”
“Ahh!” Anna gasps whilst staring out the window and looking at the glistening flurries on a quiet sunny afternoon. Remembering the day she first stepped foot in a foreign land, she remembered when she landed and the temperature that day. She remembered that she couldn’t even be bothered to listen to the safety announcement or what 3 degrees would feel like. All she wanted at that moment was to get out of the aircraft from a sixteen hour flight and get a decent sleep before catching the next flight to the Northern Rockies.
“Northern Rockies, it’s been eleven years with you. Eleven years of surviving this winter, this 30 below zero weather.” Anna utters. “How has it been eleven years?!” All these years, Anna still couldn’t believe that she’s been away from home and the people she knows all her life for eleven years! Asking herself how she was able to adapt, survive the culture shock and survive these harsh winters.
Every year, on the 8th day of February, Anna always remembers the day she left her homeland and arrived in the middle of nowhere at twenty one. It’s at this moment she counts how many Christmas celebrations she’d missed and longs to celebrate with her family back home. And it’s at this moment she wants to go home. It’s at this moment she’d wipe a tear from her eyes. It’s at this moment she would feel lonely and so homesick and find her kicking herself. “Anna Dela Cruz, you better shake it and get up! You are brave and a survivor!” Anna reminds herself how brave she is to leave everything back home and survive everything, especially the loneliness and extreme homesickness.
Anna shakes her head, gets up and picks up her phone. It’s five thirty in the morning on the other side of the world to where Anna is about to video call. “Ann-ann!” Anna’s mother exclaimed. “Oh that unique nickname and the sound of the roosters.” Anna whispers to herself smiling. “Hello mama! How are you and everyone? How’s papa?” The conversation goes on for thirty minutes. “I’m missing you all so much!” Anna said when the video call was about to end. “Ann, are you coming home this Christmas?” Anna’s father asks. Anna pauses for a moment telling herself not to cry. “Papa, I’m sorry I can’t. I can’t get off work and I’m still paying for what we spent the last time we went home and the hospitalization. I’m really sorry Papa but I promise we will when I can and when Our Creator permits. Inshallah Papa inshallah.” Anna answered. “Que sera sera okay.“ her mother said looking at Anna’s father with a goofy face. Anna smiles, catching her mother being a goofball. “Bye-bye and we love you too.” Anna’s mother and father replied to her and the video call ended.
The call made Anna sad and happy at the same time. Sad that she couldn’t be home for Christmas again. Happy and relieved that her father is looking a lot better after a bout of pneumonia that sent him to intensive care and scared everyone in the family.
The day is longer now and the sun is still up. Anna walks to the window and looks at the weather on her phone after talking to her family back home. “Hmm. It’s only 20 below, fresh snow from last night’s snowfall and the sun is still up. I can still go before I pick up Lucas and Lily from their playdate.” she utters. Anna put on her winter gear and packed up her skiing equipment. Starts her car and off she goes to the place she calls the most beautiful when she feels down and when homesickness strikes.
“Anna Dela Cruz Smith.RN.” Anna started saying. “You were just a twenty one year old foreign worker. Became a permanent resident at twenty three. Married to the most wonderful, loving and supportive husband. A mother to very precious twins. A citizen of this country. You’ve come a long way indeed Nurse Anna!” Anna exclaimed, hearing her echo and skiing her homesickness away.
Loneliness always tends to strike in winter time and it’s that moment of loneliness we find ourselves the strongest because we are fighting a battle with ourselves. We need to get up, get out and let the beauty of winter heal us, just like Anna.
“Oh you are a beauty.” Anna sighed happily after a slight stumble, then looked at her watch. “Dang, time to pick up the twins!”