Musings on a Challenging Year

standard January 2, 2012 15 responses

I made the card late one night as I sat on the couch and pondered the impossible task of creating a holiday greeting that would sum up this outrageous year without making every recipient feel pathetically sorry for us. It seems so unfair to send a card laced with misery, so party-pooperish of me. And, truth be told, I’m not one to wallow, but, that night, with M’s surgery and possible terrifying outcome still staring is in the face, morbid humor was all I could muster.

I know. I know.

That card made me laugh that night. I shared it with a few select friends and pictured myself mailing it out, or at the very least posting it here, at the end of the year, post surgery, on the eve of finally turning the page on this god-awful year. The thought made me smile.

Last week I opened my saved projects, pulled up that card, and felt no such joy. Instead, I felt overwhelming sadness, because, yes, 2011 sucked, and as such, the sentiment was more than just apt, it was downright valid, but that card, it’s not me, and I’m kinda sad that the me from last month derived so much joy from being so macabre.

I sat there, in front of my computer, facing the last week of 2011, and as tempting as it was to, once again, catalog the horrors that we faced in the last 12 months, I couldn’t help but instead be drawn to the overwhelming gratitude that flooded me.

Weaving itself in and around all the heartache and fear were many, many moments of gratitude and love.

  • Last December we arrived at my sister’s house, ready to celebrate Christmas, but bearing with us a particularly virulent strain of the stomach flu which we shared with everyone. They nevertheless welcomed us with open arms and never held it against us.
  • In March, M was scheduled for surgery (first time around) and his wise surgeon detected an underlying problem that could have caused irreparable damage had it gone unnoticed and untreated.
  • Little L fell and broke a tooth, suffered a subsequent life threatening infection, but was treated successfully by the doctors who know me well and respect my instincts, even when what I’m saying isn’t what they would first diagnose.
  • C tripped and didn‘t break her ankle. The terrible sprain healed perfectly and hasn’t left any lingering issues.
  • M finally underwent the surgery scheduled in March and has come out of it beautifully. His recovery is going as planned. Best of all, we got the unexpected gift of spending two weeks at home together. Last time we spent so much uninterrupted time alone together was on our honeymoon.

I could go on and on. That’s what the whole year was like, hardships cushioned by good fortune and surrounded by silver linings. And through it all – all the other hiccups and challenges – the unwavering friendship and support of the people in our lives. The friends who shared a cup of coffee and a laugh on tough days, the online friends who held my hand late at night, early in the morning, and all the times in between. The friends who actually held my hand  and brought me diet cokes at the hospital – all four times we were there this year.  The friends who helped us laugh through the tears, took the kids when we needed it, were just there all the time. All of that makes it impossible to be bitter about any of it.

December was gentle with us. We started to heal and look forward to what’s next. The reprieve has also allowed me to look back and see so much more than the small glimmers in the dark. 2011 was brutal, but it taught me to be even more grateful for the little things, even more aware of the importance of living in the moment.

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Despite a valiant attempt, 2011 didn’t kill any of us (thank goodness!). Instead it made us stronger, wiser, and closer than ever. Now that the page has turned I’m shocked to realize that I might even be grateful for all the challenges we faced (easier to do now that we’re hale and hearty and on the other side). But if it’s alright with everyone, I’d still appreciate a more peaceful and easy 2012.

Happy New Year to all of you. May this year bring you and your family countless wonders and joy – both the kind you’re expecting and the kind that catches you off guard.

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