I should have known that 2014 was going to be a . . . challenging year when it began with a virulent bout of the stomach flu.
But things started to look up after a week at Disneyworld with our favorite people. After the Lucky Orange Pants had the time of their life at the ACC tournament and the Sweet Sixteen. At Will’s preschool graduation. An unforgettable weekend at UVA basketball camp. When my brother got engaged to the greatest girl in the world. After an inauspicious beginning, 2014 was looking like the best year on record.
But then came July. And instead of spending our family vacation collecting starfish on the beach in Cape Cod, we stood within the makeshift curtained walls of a cramped ER room trying to process a life without my dad.
I will readily admit that I have been struggling the last few weeks. Not because it’s the holidays – those have actually helped. It’s because six months is long enough to miss someone. To feel the void instead of just acknowledging it. To have lived your altered life and felt the change that you never asked for.
There are times when I stand in the shower and will the scalding water to wash away the ugly tears that are falling down my cheeks. There are nights when I cannot beat back the waves of panic that I feel when I pick up the phone to call my dad and I hear his cell phone ring in my desk drawer. There are days when I am angry that this fall I have been an inattentive friend, a short-tempered wife, a busy daughter, an exhausted mother.
So I sat down to write a post entitled something like “Suck it 2014” (just a working title mind you). But I couldn’t. Honestly. What kept floating through my mind was a conversation the boys and I had last week. On a whim, I asked them for their top ten favorite moments of the year. And it turns out we had so many, we couldn’t pick just ten.
Instead of thinking about all I had lost this year, I could only think about everything I had been given.
Because there are many more moments when I feel a surge of pride and awe at the courage my boys have to try anything even if it means they won’t be able to walk the next day. Moments when I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the love of friends who put me ahead of themselves. Moments when I receive a note from a stranger who has read something I wrote and is grateful someone finally understands them. Moments when I hear stories about the legacy my dad has left not just us but others too. Moments of exhilaration watching lightning roll down the beach. Moments where I revel in the unfettered joy of being spontaneous. Moments of child-like euphoria when my Hoos win. So many moments when I know I am being a good mother by doing nothing other than being present.
Every day in the last year has been filled with all of these moments and more. So trying to lump them all together in order to label a year as good or bad is, well, silly.
I’m not trying to say that meeting Tony Bennett or going to Disneyworld makes up for losing my dad. But neither does writing 2015 on a check instead of 2014.
New Year’s Day is not like Cinderella’s fairy godmother. It does not erase all of your sorrows or purge all of your sins. A calendar year, after all, is nothing but an artificial construct. It is simply 365 days in a row.
I could say that this was the worst year of my life. And most people would solemnly nod in agreement. But that would be too lazy. Because such a declaration negates or trivializes every beautiful, exciting, extraordinary thing that also happened in those 365 days.
What if we stopped thinking in terms of years or months or weeks or even days and just took each moment for what it is?
What if we allowed ourselves to accept that every day is filled with varying combinations of good and bad moments? Then we wouldn’t have to throw out all the good ones with the bad when we flip the calendar page.
We could simply accept each day as it comes and know that even on the bad ones, there is good to be had. And that love never ends.