There are always scary things happening in the world. There are always wonderful things happening. And it’s up to you to decide how you’re going to approach the world…how you’re going to live in it, and what you’re going to do. (from Countdown by Deborah Wiles)
I lay on the floor of my son’s room, wrapped in a soft alpaca blanket and listening for his breathing to change so I’ll know he’s really asleep. I can hear fireworks exploding, people celebrating the going out of one year and the coming of another. In our little home we have plenty to celebrate, and for that I am glad and grateful.
I’m glad because it really has been a good year–we had a baby (the world’s most beautiful and sweetest baby, I might add), we had the best year yet for our marriage, it’s been a year of reconnecting with friends, we’ve made new friends, we’ve enjoyed good health, we’ve enjoyed the imagination and wonder of our son. It’s just been good. I feel both braver and smarter at the end of this year. My life is full and joyful and sweet. I turned 30 and I feel good about it, like I’m grown up but still plenty young. I’m just glad.
And I’m grateful because I know. I know that every year won’t be like this. And I know that for many, both friends and strangers, this has been the hardest year of their lives. I know three mamas who have buried their sons this year. Their sons. A seven-year-old, a two-month-old, and a ten-year-old. I know two mamas who had their baby girls extremely prematurely this year (twenty-three weeks and twenty-six weeks) and though both babies are well, the struggles are not finished. I have friends who have buried a parent this year and the thought that I will someday have to do this makes my throat hurt so that I can hardly breathe. A young girl who occasionally babysits for us lost her grandmother and I so remember when I lost mine at that same age and how deeply I felt it. Deployments, changed plans, miscarriages, caring for parents and job losses–the weight of what acquaintances of mine have endured is staggering. These are just the things among people I know or have crossed paths with. We have, all of us, seen also horrific things unfold across the world. Terrible things and violent things. I won’t name them.
What will we do with that? What will we do with the knowledge that some years we get to celebrate and enjoy all of the good things in life and maybe the next year we will just try to survive in a fog of grief and fear? How can we face each new day, month, year knowing that it could be wonderful or it could be horrible and neither is very much in our control?
I’ve decided to do it like this. I will celebrate when it’s time to celebrate. I will enjoy my children and my family and friends and try to be flexible. If we get to see friends one last night before they scatter to California and Israel and Chicago and Atlanta, I will keep my kids up way too late and just enjoy the time. It doesn’t matter what time is bed time when it is friend time. I will laugh out loud at the hilarious things my son says and does and I will let him wear a pirate patch everywhere we go. I will take him to see the things he is interested in, to do the things he wants to do–camping, fishing, aquariums, mini-golf, dinosaur prints, whatever. Let’s do it. I will rock my baby to sleep and kiss her fluffy cheeks until they are chapped and put her hair in little pig tails and do whatever makes her giggle and I will enjoy it all. I will kiss my husband until our lips are chapped. I will pay for a sitter and enjoy more dates with my husband. I will invite friends into my home no matter how messy it is because friendship is vital. I will enjoy life while it is great. And I will hold space in my heart and my prayers for the ones who are not celebrating. I will remember their children’s names and talk to them about the ones they’ve lost. Liam. Ezra. Rex. I will remember them. I will honor them in my own small ways–donations, ornaments on my Christmas tree, writing their names in my prayer journal. I will continue to spend tears on behalf of the hurting. I will strive to make sure our family does not contribute to the suffering of others by buying fairly traded goods. I will try to add to the wonderful things happening in the world–acts of kindness, good humor, writing uplifting things, sending letters of encouragement, baking good stuff and sharing it.
There are always scary things happening in the world, but I don’t want to live in fear. There are always wonderful things happening and I want to enjoy the wonder. This is how I’m going to live.
Happy New Year. Thank you for reading.