Honey Combs and Catacombs

The wasps nest. Actually I can’t figure it out. Wasps nest don’t look like that and I believe the bees nests do, but every time I call it a bee people correct me and say it’s a wasp. So…either way, it’s not the point of this post.

All the time we see these around our home. Scott grabs the spray and kills them. I don’t have the heart to do it. It’s their world out there and even though they make me nervous, none of us have been stung, not even our pets. I just found this latest one outside our kitchen and until Scott is finally back home, they are here to stay. We will live in harmony together and I will admire the beauty that is the incredible perfection of their combs. Each one I find I am blown away by the feel of the combs, the perfection of each and every hole in there. Every one of them is the exact same in size and feel. Not just every hole in the one comb, but in every comb I’ve found which have been many. Once the combs have been vacated I bring in the remainder and show the girls its beauty. We usually end up keeping them around for at least a week before I finally throw it out.

When I went up take a picture I told the bees that as long as it’s just me and the kids, they get to stay there and that I hope they are away from that nest when Scott goes after them. But the perfection of the comb has me thinking deeply this morning from my paradise view of the sea just to the opposite direction of where this comb is sitting. I look outside and repeat as I do every morning “I can’t believe I get to live here, God please let us stay.” The plan for this move was an indefinite move and one that we came into making this our home, possibly for the rest of our lives. I was riding in the backseat of a Bolt (like an Uber) the other day. The driver moved here thirty years ago from somewhere not memorable enough to remember. That is saying something because usually I remember where the driver came from because I find them so fascinating. The driver said that once you move to Malta, you will never live any place else. He said “there is nothing as wonderful and as simple as living here.” I think he’s right. I can feel it too. It is simple, beautiful, rich, deep in history and in people taking care of not just their own but each other. The whole mentality here is so loving and kind. It’s palpable.

As I study the perfection of my nest outside my door I have that ever present dual emotion of fear and complete perfection going on around me. The complete perfection is that this really is a dream come true. It’s everything I could have ever imagined as a total life changer where I would feel really peaceful and internally very happy. It’s also almost as terrifying. What do you do when you actually get everything you’ve ever wanted? This life here in beautiful, simple, SAFE, healthy Malta is everything I have dreamed of having in my life. Then my brother in law dies suddenly and my husband is gone for the entire month to be able to go to the funeral and get back inside this place. He’s been gone all of October and will finally return on the last days of it. Just in time for Halloween that happened to be officially canceled this year. We’re still going to dress up and trick or treat at one house just across the street and have hot chocolate with them and a few other goodies. We have to do something for the children. I just couldn’t bear to skip it altogether. It’s such a favorite for our family. Scott and I will not be dressing up as we usually do every year as the Saturday Night Live Spartan Cheerleaders, but we will still celebrate none the less. Or maybe we will pull those costumes back out to keep the normalcy. Who knows. I don’t know how I feel these days. I am so full of conflicting emotions and feelings. He’s been away for so long. You cannot come into Malta from the United States. So, he’s in between and currently in Dubai since it is a green country. He was stuck in the UK in between the US and Dubai for a few days. He had to take another Covid test and get the negative results before he could board the plane again and head out to Dubai and finish out the mandatory quarantine. There is a reason they are a safe country. They are not playing around with this thing. I fully respect it. I just miss my husband and want him back home.

As he’s been gone, he’s not been in contact nearly like he usually is when traveling. Usually when he travels we talk and video all the time. This time he videos with the kids and talks a little but mostly he just needs this time to himself to let it all sink in and let him feel it. I also know that as hard as he will try, he will come home someone different. After that type of loss, we all become someone different. It’s a natural part of the grieving cycle. And the ones closest to you suddenly become the ones that you pull in when you feel the most vulnerable and push away when you don’t. I can already feel the space between us, not because anything is wrong with us, but because there is a new space there and its name is grief. You can’t push grief to the side. It just has to sit with you and stay as the constant ache until you can all figure out how to place it where it still exists but also doesn’t take us all down. Grief is tricky. And it’s personal. And even those closest to those who are dwelling inside it can’t get in there with them. Everyone feels it differently. I know this. I can respect this. Hell, I literally just wrote a book on this. It comes out in May. It’s all I’ve studied for the past two years to write such a tale. It still feels really unbearable though and it’s been tough being in a foreign country without my mate. The kids have been really helpful and very good. It’s not more difficult to be with the kids without him, it just doesn’t have the same energy that the family together carries. This begins the final week of his time away though and I can’t wait to have him back. And I wrestle just a little bit with the uncertainty of how he will feel once he’s back here into a completely new life where both of our families are what feels like a million miles away. Someone asked me on Facebook the other day to be honest and tell what is the one thing I miss the most from America. Before I could even answer Scott wrote “her mom” and he was exactly right. What I miss from the states are family and friends, but above all, I really miss my mom. Knowing though at least for now, that I still have the option to see her again is so very different than where Scott is sitting right now. That is enormous to lose someone so close to you and know that to get back even to honor their memory requires weeks and weeks of travel and of holding and of uncertainty mixed with indefinite sadness. I ache for him every day. I am so sad for the whole family. I am devastated for their mother. And so I pray. I pray every morning and every night for all the people in the family. I pray for their healing, and for their lives ahead. I pray for so many things. And I pray for my family to be returned. This family, the one tightly held in Malta. The only family I can physically reach out and hug and love in person. My beautiful and precious family.

In the meantime, I have been driving a good bit and braving territory I’d never be able to had my friend not taken me out driving last week. She is helping me embrace the newness and the driving rules that are not the same as they are in the states. Yesterday I took the children to both the dolphin show at one place and the aquarium 20 minutes further down and then to a giant park that was 20 minutes further than that. I was very proud of myself for making the drive and for getting us there and home safely. I’m doing the best that I can here. I am still in extreme gratitude for getting to be in this incredible place, but also equally as fearful and as aware as I have ever been just how quickly it could all be taken away. Life is so fragile. It’s actually scary to get the dream life you’ve wanted for so long. It’s exciting and fulfilling and at the same time completely terrifying. It’s a lot like that perfect little honeycomb. It’s perfection. It’s creation. It’s teamwork. It’s dependence on making it work the way that it does. But, in one swoop the man comes out with a giant can of poison and there it all goes down. Poison could be my fear feelings. Poison could be our own health. Poison could be our own behaviors and destruction from any angle. Or, on the contrary, it could be the opposite of poison. What is the opposite of poison anyway? According to google, the opposite of poison would be the antidote. The antidote for me is that I’ve actually joined a gym and hired a personal trainer to work out with three times a week. The antidote is also that I’ve cut down on certain foods and increased others. The antidote is also my writing and pondering and really figuring out what parts are damaging and what parts are strengthening. The antidote is focusing on the really good stuff and not letting the fear of losing it dominate. The antidote is to get out there and explore and embrace and do everything we can to give the dream life to ourselves and to our children. The antidote is to be present to all of the feelings and to the thoughts without letting any one of them take over.

Now, the catacombs part… Malta is extremely rich in history. I’m going to quote about the catacombs because I would not be able to do it justice. “Roman law prohibited burials within the city. That is why St Paul’s Catacombs are located on the outskirts of the old Roman capital Melite (today’s Mdina). Serving as a burial ground from Punic and Roman times, the site represents the earliest and largest archaeological evidence of Christianity in Malta. Its association to the saint derives from the myth that this cluster of catacombs was once connected with St Paul’s Grotto.

The catacombs form a typical complex of interconnected underground Roman cemeteries that were in use up to the 7th, and possibly the 8th centuries AD.” {https://heritagemalta.org/st-pauls-catacombs/} also according to Wikipedia there are hundreds of catacombs throughout Malta.

These are the sacred places that have been here for centuries. I only bring them up because while I drove to the park yesterday, I saw the sign for the catacombs and I got really excited that I had driven far enough to find something like that. I also had the immediate thought that there would be no way I would explore something like that without Scott with us. Exploring the big things is not something I want to do without him with us. Something fun like Popeye Village I felt fine doing and that will be my next post. The photos were incredible, The sea in that area is beyond belief. I will enjoy posting all of that for you. But today’s was more a reflection. We find our own feelings sometimes as reflections through nature and today’s was that ever so perfect honeycomb. I am living the life I’ve always dreamed of. With that comes some weight of both fear and delight. I am learning how to choose the delight more often than the fear but it’s a work in progress for someone with a serious history of anxiety and is and will likely always be a hypochondriac by nature.

I am so ready to have my husband home with us where he belongs. It’s been a long month out here without him. The nights feel so long. The days feel long too. While we have friends and close ones nearby who I know would jump at my asking, it’s so strange to be out here this far away from any family and in times like this it hits me in waves. I have had some anxious nights thinking “what would I do if” I have zero idea where any nearby hospital is so that answer would be to call 112 (our equivalent of 911). I have yet to find our Pediatrician or a doctor for me. This is a big lesson in trusting the random finds. Even as silly as this: I have not had my hair done since we got here three months ago. I’m so over it that I finally just walked into a place and made an appointment with someone totally random. I will have it done on Tuesday. No referral, just random. I have literally been with the same hair dresser for more than THIRTY YEARS of my life. This is a huge leap to just walk in someplace and request a random color job and cut. I’m usually way more of a control freak than that. My new trainer, who I looked up myself and found him and thankfully absolutely adore him and really have been enjoying our sessions together. It makes me look forward to going back again. It’s been a long time since I’ve enjoyed working out. Even the other morning after the girls were at school, I looked at the dogs and let them know that mommy is going to the gym, and it made me pause and reflect how nice that sounded coming out of my mouth. The gym and I have a long standing contentious relationship. It’s nice to be back in good standing there.

School has been really good for Hannah academically and has been really hard for Ava in that context. I screwed her up so bad with all the wrong choices. Moving to the south side last year cost her so dearly on her education. Staying at Simpson would have been the right thing to do but would have been the wrong choice for a myriad of reasons. I am seeing clearly the ‘everything happens for a reason’ theme play out and how different things would be had we made different choices that led up to this. Now we are having to get a tutor and work extra hard to help her catch up. She is so far behind it’s horrible and I feel terrible about it. It’s a little bit of a mess and I am stressing it and feeling plenty guilty about it. Hannah is stepping up to the challenge in a great way, but she’s had years of therapy and knows how to work her way around any challenge. Plus, school has always been a delight for her. For Ava, she’s never enjoyed school but she does love to make new friends. Socially, Ava is doing great. But it is appalling how far behind we are coming into this grade. And her still consistent habit of writing numbers and several letters backward that I have been voicing concerns about for the past three years have not fixed themselves the way people kept telling me to hold out for. Honestly, I’d rather them move her down a grade level. She’s not ready for where she’s at. Here they do it by age strictly though, and you don’t get those options of being the oldest in the class if that is what fits best. So, we have an extra new journey to begin. Tutoring and driving across the town to what I’ve always thought was scary to try to get to will now be a twice a week endeavor for me to tackle. Today, on Sunday I will make the drive to the tutors house and see if I can do it before the workweek begins and traffic is terrifying.

So…all in all, even though I am living the life of my dreams, it still comes with some heavy price tags. Life always does. It’s not living easy, it’s living well and I will do everything I possibly can to make sure that each of us in this family are doing everything we can to live our lives well and to not just get through but to thrive. At present, my momma gears are grinding, my guilt is kicking in, my fear and loneliness without the love of my life have been ever present and I’m doing the best that I can to make it through and get him home safely. Then when he’s finally home, I will take him to the catacombs and learn more about our rich history here as we fall deeper in love with each other and with our new home in Malta.

That is the hope and the vision I will hold onto.

Next blog will be about our visit to Popeye Village. It’ll be more lighthearted and fun. Keep on reading and please keep sharing far and wide. As you can imagine, my dream is to write the book about this big adventure and I need a whole lot of people rooting for me before I can make that jump from self help and healing books to personal memoirs. So, help please by supporting, reading and sharing. And know, I love you all and am thankful for everything.

30 Thoughts to “Honey Combs and Catacombs”

  1. Elke Hawkins

    Hey Em,
    I’m supporting your future book endeavor by saying this Blog is RICH with context. Thank you for sharing your news, your thoughts, and your heart. I love you.
    Elke 🇺🇲

    1. Thank you Elke. I will pitch it likely in a year or so once I’ve lived here long enough and hopefully built up this platform. Then I plan to really go after it.

  2. Jan Marcussen

    Dear, dear Emily! Reading your blog brought tears to my eyes. Scott is so fortunate to have a wife who understands grieving and how it affects people so individually. I have been praying for Scott and for you as you both grieve separately from each other. Surely being together will strengthen both of you. So glad to hear that Scott will join you for Halloween since that has been such a joyful time for you two. Know that I am praying for both of you as you pick up the pieces of your life and weave them together again.

    1. Thank you so much, Nana. That means a lot to me. As you know I hope, that I am praying for you daily as well.

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