In 2015 my dad was diagnosed with stage 4 prostate cancer and it didn’t look too good. The doctors were not giving him much time. To get that phone call and not being able to just go to my parents’ house and hug them and cry with them made the distance unbearable. It was so hard to be apart during that difficult time. In three months, my dad’s cancer had spread from the prostate, into his hips, tailbone, pelvic bone, up the spine and into his shoulders.
Making the Move
I’m from Alberta. Although my parents met in Manitoba, they moved to Alberta and that is where I grew up. We always came to Manitoba for our holidays to visit family.
When I was 15, I went to the Morris Stampede with my cousin and we ran into some of her friends from youth group. That’s where I met Steve. We knew each other for a couple of months before we started dating. We did the long-distance relationship thing for two years and then we got engaged.
During our engagement, all I could think about was getting married and moving to Manitoba to be with Steve so we would not have to be apart anymore. What I didn’t think about was being so far away from my family.
I remember it hitting me as we were heading down the driveway on our wedding day. I said goodbye to my parents, sisters & brother and I didn’t know when I would see them again. That was very hard realization for me.
A New Normal
That first year of marriage was a huge adjustment. Not only was I learning to live with someone new, I was learning to live with my family in a different province and missing out on special family events like getting to hold my first nephew in the hospital.
The distance seemed to grow farther when we started our family. Steve and I always knew we wanted to have children and start our family relatively quickly. But I never realized how tough being far away from my family would be. There have been so many times I wish my children’s Nana and Opa could come watch their program, or that I could call my mom or my sister and say “Hey! I am coming over for coffee today!” Or have my kids be able to play with their cousins.
I thought that over time the distance would get easier. People would tell me that “It’s not a big deal. You will get used to it.” But it’s been 13 years, I can tell you, I have not gotten used to it. Especially when my dad was diagnosed with cancer.
Being far away from my family when my dad was diagnosed was very hard. We had just found out that we were expecting baby #5. At that time the doctors were not sure if my dad would make it to summer. That’s when I was due. I didn’t even know if my dad would meet my baby.
The doctors wanted to try a few different things for him, including chemo, hormone therapy and a clinical trial. It was so hard to see pictures of him doing chemo and not being able to be there for him or for my mom. Fortunately, his cancer became dormant and he is doing well. We are so thankful for the time we have had with him in the past three years.
Joy in the Journey
Although I will never get used to being so far from my family, I have learned to be thankful for many things!
I am so incredibly grateful that we all live in the same country and that we can still see each other a couple of times a year.
I am thankful my younger sister decided to follow me here to Manitoba and that we can have each other close by. She is always there for me!
God has blessed me with amazing in-laws. I have a wonderful loving in-law family and that also helps when I am having hard times.
I am thankful for Facetime so I can actually see my family when we talk to each other!
I am thankful for where God has brought me and for what He has in store for me and my family. I do love living in Manitoba and the community we live in, even while I miss home.
And I am thankful for my husband and that God made our paths cross on those stampede grounds so many years ago. Steve has been my rock, no matter what. When I get crazy ideas in the middle of the night to see what seat sales West Jet is having so I can go see my family, he tells me to book the ticket.
But most of all, I am so glad for the comfort from our Heavenly Father who is constant through distance, marriage, family, cancer, or whatever situation or circumstance we are in.
About the Author:
Bernice Hiebert is basically Wonder Woman. In addition to having five incredible kids, she enjoys baking, scrapping booking, gardening, and canning. Did I mention she also works out and volunteers at school? Wonder Woman. As a family, her and her husband Steve enjoy fishing, going to Lilac, and spending time at their auntie Anne's cabin. And road trips to visit Bernice's family in Alberta are a highlight of any year.
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