THAT day has come. That one day we all sit down and decide on our goals for the New Year, maybe even write them down to keep ourselves on the straight and narrow. We’ve come through half of Winter by now, and see Spring just ahead of us, a time for new beginnings. We’re going to lose weight! (No but for real this time!) We’re going back to school! We’re putting in for new jobs! Cleaning the attic! Organizing the basement! Helping the needy! Sewing all our own clothes! Composting! Recycling more! Running a marathon! Everything! Everything we’ve ever wanted to do in life, here it is! Right in front of us! Every thought requires an exclamation point!
It’s all there! We just need to reach out and grab it….we’re right on the cusp of…….
Nah. Nope. I’m really not.
I’m not doing it this year.
This last year has, quite likely, been the hardest year of my life. Last year on New Year’s Eve, I was looking ahead to spring, to fulfilling my resolutions, to marking To-Do’s off my bucket list. I spent New Year’s Eve with my family, and looking around our home, I was filled with hope, and pride, and ideas, and…..and well, just that sense of New-ness, of wiping away the year before and focusing on gettin’r done in the coming twelve months.
And then that bright, shiny New Year knocked me flat on my ass.
We started the New Year with my husband very unexpectedly losing his job. It seemed like that was just the beginning of a downward spiral, a dirty snowball of Fate getting fatter and fatter as it flew down the hill of 2013. Before we even caught our breath, there was an accident – my sister-in-law and nephew spun out of control on an icy road and a pick-up truck DROVE THROUGH their tiny car, slicing it in half. Our hearts collectively stopped for a beat of time, until we knew the two of them would be okay. Not the same as before, but alive, and that meant all the world. We stopped to breathe deeply. My sister and I cried together in the Emergency Room, and hugged each other as we waited for our sister-in-law to come out of surgery. Again. And again. And again. We talked about the exciting news in my sister’s family: her first grandbaby was to be born in July. Due to be born the same week as Royal Baby George, we laughed and said her little grandson would be the best thing in the year, the one special thing we could look forward to. We loved the name that had been chosen for him, and we talked about how he would be chubby with blue eyes, maybe, and long lashes like my nephew. We made plans for the baby shower, and sometimes during our talks, my sister would reach back and rub her shoulder. She said she’d slept wrong, maybe, or pulled a muscle when moving out of her old house.
March 1st, the baby died. Our family was heartbroken. My sister wept and wept and the pain in her shoulder worsened. She wasn’t sleeping well, she said, she was so upset about the baby, and sad for her son and his girlfriend.
In April, we learned the shoulder pain was a mass in her lung. She was so afraid. We all were.
I would lay awake at night and think, “I can’t lose my sister. I can’t lose my sister.” I would read, and watch television deep into the night, but the phrase kept repeating.
In May, she started chemo and radiation. There were complications. Things went bad. Quickly.
Her long and beautiful hair came out. Her weight plummeted. She seemed confused. And then one day, she couldn’t get out of bed.
That foul disease had metastasized. To her other lung. To her brain. To her bones.
And in the blink of an eye, my beautiful sister, my only sister, was gone.
I never imagined we could survive it. Every day I woke up and thought, “This is the day the world will stop,” because I simply could not imagine it would keep going without my sister in it. For so long, my only feeling was a blessed numbness, a surreal feeling of limbo. Days came and went. I shoved reality away. I filled my mind and days with nonsense. Anything to keep busy, to stop myself from thinking.
Somehow, life went on.
My husband changed jobs again.
There were new medical diagnoses and decisions about treatment plans for some of my children.
I started a new semester at school, but apathy quickly overwhelmed me. I quit attending one class three-quarters of the way through the semester, and utterly failed the other one. I haven’t even checked my grades yet, but I know there will no longer be a shiny 3.9 in my G.P.A. spot.
I don’t understand why I don’t care anymore. I just don’t.
One of my mom’s best friends died. I called her “Aunt” all of my life, and when I dropped in at the funeral home, I felt an odd hollowness in my belly, as if a chunk of my childhood had been somehow yanked out of my memory.
I started a new job. Within just a few months, I was injured and am still off.
The physical pain coupled with the emotional pain leaves me so exhausted, I wish I could just sleep and sleep and sleep.
I force myself awake because I have a family and I want to be there for them. I know they are still hurting, too.
But I have a hard time really feeling present, regardless of what I’m doing.
I want to do something, anything, that will make me FEEL.
But that would require effort, and I am quite tired.
Life keeps moving forward, and my children seem to grow older by the day.
It looks like there may be another job change on the horizon.
Changes keep coming. We keep adjusting. Sometimes my eyes overflow with tears and I don’t know why.
Last New Year’s Eve, I would never have imagined everything that would have transpired in the coming months.
That’s probably a good thing.
Still and all, there were some good things. I crossed a few items off my bucket list.
In 2013, I was excited to publish my first and second articles.
I started this blog. Having a regular reason to write has helped me keep my sanity.
I found a Super Awesome Someone willing to edit my book.
The creations I design were accepted at a Renaissance Festival, and I had the pleasure of dressing as a pirate wench, and sometimes as a gypsy, for an entire month last summer as my friend and I manned our “Hooker” shop…..hookers o’ yarn, we were.
My husband and I celebrated 20 years of marriage.
I learned people, even total strangers, will give and give and give if they know there is a need. I was blown away by the support and love shown by others when my sister was ill.
My oldest child began her Senior year of High School.
I’ve reconnected with old friends and made some new friends (including a Wicked Witch, some Giants, a few Gypsies, and a crew of Fire Flinging Belly Dancers…..WHAAAT? YEAH, I KNOW PEOPLE.)
I survived both the Mid-Season Finale of “The Walking Dead” and Icemaggedon 2013.
I learned my heart can be ripped from my chest, and I won’t die.
Knock me on my ass? I might stay down and nap for a minute, but I WILL get back up and keep going.
So, nope. I’m not making any New Year’s Resolutions this year. I’m not even making plans.
I’m just hoping.
I hope I wake up every morning and get out of bed.
I hope our marriage grows stronger.
I hope I don’t miss the changes in my children a year will bring.
I hope my Mom is still around next year on New Year’s.
I hope I get a few steps closer to publishing my book.
I hope I graduate in May.
I hope the physician I am waiting to see can fix my back. I hope I don’t need surgery.
I hope I don’t hear the word “Cancer” again. AT. ALL.
I hope I can help someone who needs it.
I hope I never forget to say, “I love you”.
I hope I have the opportunity to publish more of my words.
I hope that in 2014, I no longer feel numb.
“Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes.”
A million years long.
A blink of an eye.