When your grandmother dies and you’re miles away

The reason for the sudden silence during my adventure in Mexico is that the trip took a brutal turn when I got the message from Norway that my grandmother had fell ill. And this time they said, she didn’t seem to be willing to recover.

I was biking around in Tulum at the time, soaking in the cliche looking Caribbean landcape, chugging coconut milk, petting stray dogs and bumping into iguanas, swimming in the turquoise sea and drinking mezcal with random locals I met on my way.

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Needless to say, I was far away in all senses from even thinking about Norway where autumn was turning into its last colorful shedding. I’ve probably not said it out this public by now, but after an amazing trip to the US since the end of summer (of which Ive shared some stories already), I was for good reasons – yet now suddenly unexplainable to me – very dedicated to go through with a solo trip to Mexico. I’d been living through a difficult emotional time as my man and I had decided to separate from each other after the US trip, and thus my mind was completely set up on the journey to Mexico. I felt happy and free in a beautiful and frightening way while I took off.

To be honest, I didn’t think much about others than myself while in Mexico, and on how to make sure to explore as much as possible about both myself and this – to me – new country.

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Therefore, when my mum told me three days before granny passed away that it looked serious, none of us actually understood what was about to happen. Or perhaps we were in a state of denial? It wasn’t until Friday October 18th, after a phone call from my mum and a text message stating the situation had gone a lot worse over night, that I finally understood I had to get my ass out of Mexico.

Despite of being in a state of panic and self-judgement, I managed to get dressed while throwing my things into my backpack and order a taxi to the airport with good help from the hostel manager. While waiting for the taxi I was on the phone with Delta airlines that after only twenty minutes could confirm they had found a flight for me leaving Cancun within 2,5 hours. It meant I would be home in another 16 hours.

As we hugged farewell the hostel manager kept telling me everything would be alright, one way or another. I left the hostel crying and sat in the taxi on the way to the airport crying. The taxi ride took about 45 minutes and what I remember the most is holding a neatly packed sandwich in my hand that the hostel keeper had prepared for me before leaving. I spent the trip looking down at it, thanking the beautiful soul of its maker, while occasionally looking outside the windows at the numerous hotel chains along side the highway in Playa del Carmen.

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Now and then I begged to all major forces I could come up with that I’d reach all the way to keep my grandma company during her last breaths. I knew she was ready to leave us now, and I hoped she weren’t suffering. Still, in my selfishness I wanted her to live some more hours so that I could be there with her and hold her wrinkled hand.

The coming flight was obviously the longest of my life. I spent the hours both thinking and trying not to think too much, until I found a way to focus on my gratitude for having had a grandma like the one I had. I watched childhood pictures on my Mac and reflected over how much she actually had meant to my life. To my personality. This isn’t a new thought to me in any way, but under such circumstances they feel quite different.

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Cancun from above the day I went

When I arrived to Amsterdam for my connecting flight and hadn’t got any answer back from my mum to my text message sent ten hours earlier, I understood it. Grandma was dead. I figured my mum would have told me in a message if she still lived, but not if she had died. By realising Ill never talk to my grandmother again – a moment I’ve feared since I was a teenager, I felt like a part of me died. I had never felt anything like it, not even when my grandpa died.

My grandmother was perhaps like any other grandmother in many senses; at times a little narrow minded and old fashioned, out of tune with what youth is up to, and worrying too much about what if this and what if that. To me in my life though, she has been my dad, my second mum and the funny sister all in one. For some reason we’ve had this special connection since I was born and I can recall years of making a lot of silly jokes of one another.

I knew it would happen, and now I can confirm it: I’ll miss her as deeply as I’m ever grateful for everything she has given me of love and caring.

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When I arrived to Norway my phone didn’t work as I had left my sim card in Mexico DF where I was supposed to go back after four more weeks of traveling. I asked a random lady to borrow her phone, and she had to stand there watching me getting the message from my mum that I was eight hours late to sit by granny’s side. The lady wept as I finished the phone call and gave me the warmest hug before I ran off to find my mum outside on the parking lot. I will never forget that lady and her hug.

By realising that my longtime fear ahd turned into reality: That my grandmother died while I was on one of my many travels, I began on a new journey. Tthe exhausting journey of a guilt trip. Yes, I know: There is nothing I can do about it! And I know I had the right to live the way I wanted, to travel and to say goodbye to her time and time again. I also know my grandma knew that I loved her deeply and that she loved me regardless of my gipsy lifestyle.

Still, it will take me some time to reconcile the fact that I wasn’t there with her.

Fortunately she had a close person with her until she took her last breath: Thanks to my wonderful and caring mum, granny was in safe hands until her very last breath. And as for the things I wanted to repeat to her and thank her for, it was delivered by my mum instead. I can’t express how happy it makes me to know that she finally could relax and let go to the sound of my humming and story telling mother, without fearing to meet death on her own.

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How Ill remember her. RIP Else Evelyn.

It’s only been three weeks since she passed away. I’ve tried to look back at where I came from prior to this time, but find it difficult. What’s weird when a far-away-trip ends tragically like this, is that your mindset about the whole journey instantly changes to something very blurry. Meaning that the place you left behind – full of so many inspiring and joyful memories – suddenly feels further away than ever before.

I look forward to going back to Mexico one day. With peace of mind and plenty of desire to explore again. But as for now, the only place I want to be is home, close to my beloved ones. After all, that’s one of the best side effects traveling comes with.

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