RECAP : In Feb we went to renew our yearly visa. Mine was rejected because I'm an idiot and tried too hard and we were classified erroneously. So I appealed to the Irish Department of Justice and Immigration, asked them to change our category (our visa classification would stay the same) and approve my permission to stay. And then we waited.
"What's happening with your visa?"
Nearly everywhere I go, this is the question I'm asked. Friends, near strangers, distant relatives and colleagues. They all want to know. Many have been praying. Some find themselves in similar situations, or know of someone who has.
"Our friends have been told to leave by the end of the month..."
"We went through this once, and it all worked out in the end."
"Did you hear that woman on Joe Duffy? They're also in ministry and they're time is up..."
Every story leaves me the same way, fighting for an air of sanity, my stomach dropping low with the weight of uncertainty. This all sounds very melodramatic, as I am a very melodramatic person. So I'll cut to the chase and we can dissect it all in a minute or two.
My visa for this year has been approved. I'm allowed to stay (with my husband and family) through February 2015. (Praise be to God!, they say.) We will then apply again for our usual yearly visa. This should (probably, maybe) be no problem. However, the letter made very clear that our family will not be allowed to stay past January 2016. NO EXCEPTIONS. All caps. Underlined. Bold.
Let me be clear, because I often need to slap myself out of drowning in hyperbole. We are the lucky ones. We have other homes to go to. A free, safe country that will take us back. Families who put up with us for the low price of daily kid hugs. We have options, we have support, we have freedom.
So many people do not.
The immigration office is filled with those who have no other place to go. Non-profits are set up for the very purpose of counseling immigrants and refugees in navigating this new home because their old one is lost to them. They have come here for safety, for security, for their children, for a future. Many have come fighting for their lives.
This is not us. So I make myself aware of the priceless gift we have of choosing where we want to live. And how, when 2016 comes and we may in fact have to leave, we have someplace to go. Families who will take us in. New countries we could pursue if we wanted to. Our life will go on.
And for now we are good. We stay and Matt works and we raise our kids and love the same people and go about our life here. We paint our kitchen because the buttercup yellow has got to go. I make plans for the children's schools for next year and the year after and the year after that. We look forward to visitors and take on new responsibilities and keep on keepin' on.
But, but... the what ifs still weigh on me. The ticking time bomb is counting down. This moving every two or three years is getting real old, real fast. Moving to Ireland thinking we'd be here forever -- when the actual law we didn't know existed states we can't -- is super not cool. I worry about this out loud to people, to the ones who stay, and ask for guidance.
"This has never been a problem before..."
"...our employees have always been allowed to stay."
"Ah, I'm sure It'll be grand."
Yes, I know, it will all be grand. Here, there or anywhere. And for now, we are here. And we are legal. And how we made it is a miracle. And God is on top of it. And we are just little human cogs in the beautiful upsidedown Kingdom. So much of human existence is unknowable and even though we cry and wish, "I just want to know! If only I'd known!" that's not how things work. We all go about our daily business with some level of not knowing, but believing and waiting and hoping all the while.
You know, faith and stuff.
And even in all the uncertainty up until now (and the questions left hanging for the future), we have been inundated with support. Our Irish friends and coworkers want us here. Our friends and family back in America believe in what we're doing and want us to stay here. Our network has expanded and we have been filled to the brim with words of encouragement, offers of assistance and prayers for what's next.
It'll be grand, we say. And we endeavor to believe it.