As the Holidays wind to a close, the real world begins to reassert itself. Sparkling lights come off the houses leaving them just houses rather than magical palaces. The shopping frenzy is behind us, but the credit card bills are not. Trash bins are filled with sad remnants of gift wrap and the Christmas decorations are returned to their year-round home, sometimes with regret, often with relief.
This year, for me, relief wins. 2017 has been one of the most difficult years of my life. A year that started with a focus on growth and positive changes quickly gave way to a focus on cancer treatments, worry about my children’s health and then a funeral and settling an estate. Sorrow and worry seemed to dominate this entire year. I am deeply grateful it is over and do not ever want a repeat.
Our Christmas was a sad, diminished affair. Dale was gone from us forever. Dennie was still fragile from her cancer treatments. And a third of our family stayed home with the flu. Our annual gift exchange game lacked the joy and fun of previous years. Sometimes, I felt as though I was on autopilot, simply going through the motions of a mom doing Christmas. Is this what happens when grief takes hold of a family? I suspect the answer is yes.
I started 2017 with the same optimism I always bring to a new year, serving gallons of blackeyed peas to family and friends for good luck and making unofficial resolutions in hopes of improving my life. But in hindsight, I don’t think the peas worked and I am not sure making resolutions for 2018 is such a great idea. They didn’t work out all that well in this nightmare of a year. All I want is to not repeat what we experienced in the last 12 months. My wishes are far more basic than in years before. I want good health for all those I love. I want peace on earth and barring that unlikely event, I want peace in my own heart. And most of all, I want my son back. The last, sadly, cannot be and so I must content myself with finding ways to heal the grief his loss has left behind.
Every year, the world celebrates the birth of a new year with fireworks, libations, parties, and global celebration. The very term is rife with hope for a fresh beginning. We make resolutions in hopes we can change whatever did not go well in the year just passed. This year, we say, I WILL … lose weight … exercise … stop smoking … get a new job … go back to school … and so on and on. By February, most of us have started to slip back into old habits and the resolutions become a thing of the past.
I am hoping for a different type of new year. First of all, I had thought to eliminate my blackeyed peas open house in 2018. But old habits die hard and I found that everyone was just expecting to be here tomorrow. I guess we will try one more time to create good luck via a bowl of humble peas. Maybe this time, the Universe will hear our prayers and they will work.
And I have resolved to make no resolutions. Rather, I plan to change my focus on the year. I think I will, instead, try to see every day of 2018 as a new opportunity to get life right, the start of another new year if you will. Do you think that might fool the fates? Just as a new year spurs us to start anew, perhaps seeing each day as a fresh start will do one major thing for me. It will allow me to live in the present, viewing every new morning as time I can release regrets of what I can no longer control and instead focus on gratitude for the things large and small that enrich my life. Perhaps that is a path to healed grief and the inner peace I so desperately crave.