A South African mom’s heartbreaking poem, written on the plane as she left South Africa to move abroad – went viral last year… because Lindi-Mae Humphreys’ words about the pain of leaving behind everything she knew and loved struck a chord with every South African who has left their beloved country to seek a safer home for their children. (Lindi-Mae’s decision had followed an attack at gunpoint in her kombi.) This week, Lindi-Mae’s family celebrated a year in The Netherlands. The following poem expresses exactly how she’s feeling right now, 12 months after making that momentous move…
Just a Dream… By Lindi-Mae Humphreys
I dreamt of being back in my beautiful home country last night. 🇿🇦
I was back in my Friendly City, Port Elizabeth / GQ. I was sitting on Hobie Beach next to the Pier, feet in the sand, staring at the deep blue ocean that was ever so calm. I remember telling myself in my dream that I need to remember exactly what it looks like, what it smells like and what it feels like, because I don’t see anything like it here, and I knew it would be a long while until I saw it again. My magnificent big blue. The playground I continue to long for.
I was then in my parents house, our much loved (now sold) family home. It got dark and we went to bed. For some reason it was just myself and the kids. I remember waking up in my dream in a sweat with a bad feeling. I got up and walked through to the lounge and saw the sliding door had been removed from the rail and the curtain was blowing profusely. My body went ice cold when I realized there were intruders in the house. I ran to the front bedroom to push the panic button but noticed more balaclava wearing guys jumping over the wall from the front and I froze.
I tried to call my Mom to ask her to contact Atlas to send help immediately but my Netherlands phone couldn’t make calls in South Africa. I remember screaming to my children to come to me so I could try keep them safe. I then woke myself up from hyperventilating too badly. I had to keep telling myself it was just a dream.
This dream has been playing so heavily on my mind today, because it was all so real. Sitting on the beach in that stillness watching the waves, I was so calm. I was calm but my heart was heavy as a result of the longing I didn’t even realize I’m feeling here.
It was so real.
But so was the break-in.
So was the next part of my dream where I was absolutely terrified, fearing for my childrens’ lives. Where I woke up from my own screams and uncontrollable breathing.
That was sadly a large part of my last 3 years in South Africa.
Scenarios of unimaginable situations
Only I was right there then, and not safe and sound 13,000km away, sleeping with my doors unlocked.
13,000km away from all our family and friends though.
Away from all our loved ones.
Away from my brothers, my besties and Mom’s homecooked meals.
Away from all the comforts of the only world we knew.
A world that was filled with warmth, and love, and familiarity.
It was filled with sunshine and friendliness.
A world however, that was also filled to the brim with PTSD for me.
A world that I don’t think I could ever accept as “the norm” again.
I have asked myself so many times HOW I’ve been so “okay” with this move.
Waiting for the “honeymoon” phase to end and for that “kick in the guts” that this is our new reality.
What is wrong with me?
Why don’t I have the longing to want to move back to South Africa like so many expats do?
Why does everyone say emigrating is the toughest thing you will ever do?
Why don’t I cry at all being so far away from home?
Has my mind blocked out all the emotion as a coping mechanism?
Or have I maybe been fantasizing about a world where our children are safe and free for so long that I’m now numb to the pain of giving up our old lives?
Or maybe because I’m old and wise enough to know that nothing is permanent anymore?
I don’t yet have answers to any of the many questions circling around my mind today, but what I do know, is that my heart is still filled with immense gratitude and excitement to be here, and for what’s still to come.
Thank you Netherlands 🇳🇱 for being a great home away from home
I guess time really does fly when you’re having fun
Happy 1 year in NL to Donny and I ❤️”
© Just a Dream… By Lindi-Mae Humphreys (published on SAPeople.com with Lindi-Mae’s kind permission)
If you missed Lindi’s previous heartbreaking poem, read it here: Good-bye my beautiful country, South Africa.
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Lindi’s new poem has struck a chord too, with so many South Africans who love and miss their homeland, but are grateful to have found a safer place to call home.
One said: “This made me cry as we too are planning our move to New Zealand. Sleeping in a neighborhood at night (in South Africa) hearing a gunshot or 2, or not knowing when intruders will be standing next to your bed. No electricity or water some days… My heart is so sad.”