As the weeks have passed, I’ve wondered how I would feel as New Year’s Eve got closer and closer. Would I consider the impending new year a moment of great comfort, a chance to close the door on a tough year?
I have never been more grateful to say goodbye to a year than in 2005, which was — in my whole 29 years of experience — about as bad a year as it could get. I finally ended a relationship that had nearly killed my spirit, and the fallout and drama definitely kicked the year off with a bang. Work became unbearable as my boss revealed romantic feelings for me, feelings that were certainly not reciprocated nor appreciated. I had a health scare with my heart (after days of tests and monitors and sticky nodes stuck to every square inch of my chest, I was diagnosed with… shocking… stress).
And to top it all off, I kept doing stupid things that left my body covered in physical signs of my emotional distress — for example, in an attempt to donate clothes to the local Goodwill, I accidentally rammed my eyeball into the corner of my car door. (Days later, a domestic violence shelter worker tried to talk to me and refused to believe that my abusive relationship was with a Subaru.) I tripped in a parking lot enroute to get a fish taco, shattering a tiny bone in my wrist that the ER doctor said was literally the hardest bone in the body to break, and it also came with a 9 month recovery timeline.
Oh, and red-winged blackbirds kept attacking my head on my morning runs. I still can’t explain that one, though Scott swears it must be because my chlorine-damaged hair is nice nesting material. At the time, it just felt like the universe hated me.
Early in January in 2006, I sat on a rural road in Utah and sobbed heavily after realizing that 2005 was over and I had survived it.
It’s been a decade and I’ve had plenty of time to gain perspective on that year. In the years that followed, I honed my ability to see good (or funny) mixed in every bad situation — and I can even look back on 2005 with laughter and gratitude. That year was a training ground for how I can deal with life’s challenges. As trite as the saying may be, it’s true that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
Time also helped me realize that 2005 contained a lot of good. Ten years later, the friend who offered easy laughs in moments of great pain is the husband whose quick wit still delights me daily (we still won’t eat fish tacos though). My parents stepped up as rocks that year, and I still marvel at the stability they offered me then and still offer me now. The spring road trip that my brother and I took to Arizona launched a tradition of occasionally taking time just for the two of us. I discovered the importance of a true friendship, eliminated the toxic people in my life, and vowed to cultivate the relationships that mean the most.
2015 dealt our family a nasty hand. And yes, the tragedy that unfolded was not mine. There’s a huge difference between being a person going through hell and being a caregiver for the person going through hell.
That said, it was still a hard year. And yet, the words I wrote back in August remain true: I can’t call it a nightmare. I saw too many good people step up to help in ways big and small, and there are just so many things I feel grateful for.
Aside from cancer, there were also a lot of moments of pure joy. I added 20 adventures to my 40 before 40 list, from circus antics to pottery throwing to the (not one, not two, but THREE) idiotic death jumps in the Adirondacks that we never need to do again. We did an incredible amount of work on the church house — some of it easily apparent (I’m talking to you, thousands of bald eagles who terrified our guests) and much of it not (tuck-pointing the foundation — during which my cake decorating skills came in handy):
There were also plenty of other wonderful moments, which never made it to this blog because I want to live life, not just write about it. There was bowling and berry picking, trips to Colorado, Vermont, Massachusetts, and South Carolina to spend time with family and friends, hikes and kayaks in beautiful places across New York, and a war on voles in our garage that (at least for now) the humans have won.
2015 was not without its struggle, and 2016 will not have an easy start. But as we sit on the eve of the new year and reflect, I know my immediate family is stronger for all we have been through, and there is an amazing network of extended family and friends who provide a safety net below us. For that, I am humbled. Thank you.
Happy New Year friends. May it be your best yet!