My heart is torn between Ireland and Canada

I’ve made a new life with my husband and daughter abroad, but I still yearn for home

‘What I miss is hard to define. I think perhaps I am mourning the future I may not have. As my mother ages, will I not be there? As my daughter grows, will she only know Ireland as the place her mother laments about, after a few too many glasses of wine?’

‘What I miss is hard to define. I think perhaps I am mourning the future I may not have. As my mother ages, will I not be there? As my daughter grows, will she only know Ireland as the place her mother laments about, after a few too many glasses of wine?’

 

I never chose to stay in Canada, though I have not chosen to leave either. This is the conundrum my heart struggles with in the background, every day.

Six years have passed since I landed in Vancouver, with two suitcases, packed by my genius compactor of a father, and a one way ticket. “I’ll come home in a couple of weeks if I don’t like it,” are the words that made me capable of putting one foot in front of the other and boarding that plane.

Looking back, I really don’t know how I did it. I think I just had nothing to lose. A perfect storm had gathered of youth, the end of a long and turbulent relationship, and the darkness of the recession.

Now I am married two years, and have a beautiful 7-month-old baby girl. I am happy and I have a pretty wonderful life. But what of my mother, my family? What of my home, where the streets of Dublin feel like mine, and trees in Rathfarnham are scarred with my initials?

My heart is scarred with the loss of my home, while it simultaneously fills with love for my daughter, my family and our life in Canada. Will I always feel this way? Has Ireland forgotten me, and am I grieving for an unrequited love?

The Generation Emigration Facebook page reminds me all too often that I am not alone in my loss. The headlines in my feed stir up feelings that find little resolve. I rarely click on the articles, not wanting to invite in these complex feelings to an otherwise happy day. I am now a counsellor. I help people to work through their emotions and even still, I don’t know what to do with this specific yet elusive ache in my soul.

What I miss is hard to define. I think perhaps I am mourning the future I may not have. As my mother ages, will I not be there? As my daughter grows, will she only know Ireland as the place her mother laments about, after a few too many glasses of wine? My eyes sting as I think of this. Is this reason enough to uproot my life here and return to a country that may have no place for my husband or me?

Life is better in Canada. At least it is better than the Ireland I knew six years ago. I am also better. The me I was back then is unlikely to have much in common with the me now. I left as I turned 24. I had recently ended a five and a 1/2-year relationship, moved home and lost my job in the recession. After moving to Canada, it felt I was really living for the first time.

I also struggled, was depressed, and came very close to packing it all in. In fact, the day I met my husband-to-be, I had called in sick to work and from under my duvet, I had cried on the phone to my mother. She had encouraged me to stick with it. From her own experience living in Canada, she said it would take two years to really settle in.

While everyone at home warned me not to return, my life pushed on and roots were put down. I went back to school, changed careers, married and had a baby. I am now the person I believe I was meant to become. My life has been an adventurous one and my experiences were necessary to get me to the place I am today. For this reason, I cannot regret that moment I purchased a one-way ticket, as my mother and sister watched TV in the living room.

If I do decide to leave again, this time I will have something to lose. It would mean uprooting my life, as well as those of my daughter and husband. I find solace in reminding myself that the future cannot be known. In my early 20s I thought I had it all figured out and my future was very clear. I was very wrong, and thankfully so.

For now I must remind myself to live in the present. My dreams of home do not consume me, and should they ever, I know I have a partner who loves me and would never shut down the idea of beginning a whole new adventure.

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