February 2023

As you read from the title, it is true. Alhamdulillah, after five years of being away from my family, I finally reunited with them. Although I am not in Libya yet, I am happy to be with them after this long. Since the beginning of COVID-19 in 2020, things haven’t been the easiest regarding movement. Also, adding to it, the administrative logistics made my return to Libya or movement in general extremely limited. It made my life significantly unbearable. Everything further burdened my life in France even if I did everything I could to handle it.

Last year was the best yet the hardest on me on many levels, primarily due to external factors. By the second half of 2022, I lived the highest uncertainty and was on survival mode. Amid it, I decided to live each day as it went. Some days were good, but others were harder to pass. Regardless of everything, I had so much faith that it would pass. At the same time, I was and still am prepared for the worst. Hard times are there as reminders though are not meant to last.

Honestly, I wouldn’t be able to pass those months of doubt, crying, and heaviness without the support of my friends in France. They helped me in every way possible to feel less alone and tackle the problems I had in hand. I will always look back at every help, small or big, with tremendous gratefulness. Although some of the tension cleared for me now, I decided to seize it and enjoy the time I had to breathe a little.

I have been with my family for a few weeks before returning to France. I got the opportunity to cherish every moment with them. Yet, we have used social media to connect in the past years; not seeing or being with them physically was profound. My brothers are now taller than me and the speak and express themselves eloquently.

Furthermore, I realized that my parents need my help and support more than ever. We tend to forget that as we get older, our parents and siblings get older as well, affecting them as much as it does to us. I am grateful that I got to live the everyday life I yearned for with my family. I missed it a lot; I needed this time with them after five years apart.

Only after being with them did I realize I managed everything in France alone. I know I was alone, but it wasn’t even clear to me because of not seeing my family or friends or visiting Libya in recent years. I was so busy with everything that I didn’t realize many things, but I am grateful for it all—not adding that I only realized that I am turning 29 very soon and didn’t expect time to pass by this quickly!

Most notably, my time with my family made me appreciate my life in France. Since I moved to France, I never had a sense of belonging and always considered my time there temporary. However, after being away from it for a few weeks, I felt a sense of belonging that France became my second home. Being away from it helped me reflect better on the experiences and efforts I put while living there. Joining my family enabled me to realize so many things but a reminder that being with them is the most important. Cherish your loved ones dearly. May anyone far away from their family reunite with them sooner.