I have attempted this blog more than a few times, all without much success. The end of 2017 leaves me feeling blessed, but also very reflective and introspective. Although, I am a firm believer in saying thank-you and good-bye to each year, this thank-you-and-good-bye blog has been a challenge. It turns out that 2017 was a big year for me: I changed jobs, gained and lost friends, my habits and hobbies are new or re-designed, and my family has grown. It seems that I am now a completely different person than I was last year at this time. And, as predictable as all those changes might have been, almost all of them took me by surprise. I guess that is the way life goes sometimes.
So many of the changes made it easy to say farewell to 2017. For instance, I worked under so many different people in the past few years that saying good-bye to my previous job was a walk in the park. The people I love from that job are still in my life, so there were no bitter separations. Saying so-long to a routine that included working two jobs with almost zero time to smell the roses, was easy. Instead, I now meander to my office two or three days a week, stopping first to see what the vegan deli has for lunch, then picking up flowers at the local grocery store, getting coffee at my favorite coffee shop and finally arriving at work just in time at 10AM. Since I leave somewhere around 3PM, I miss much of the traffic on the ride home. I love this new routine and it was pure bliss leaving that old craziness.
But there were difficult partings in 2017 as well. There was the sad good-bye of my mother’s ability to navigate her life. In the past year, she has lost so much of her memory and ability to function independently, and her health care now requires more from my brother and me. She sometimes doesn’t recognize me, doesn’t know where she is, or why she can’t go “home”. This has been a sorrowful and heart-breaking process to watch.
I lost a good friend this year and that was distressing. I am not sure of what happened between us, but whatever happened was carefully left unspoken. I have my completely reasonable and justified explanation and I am sure she has hers. My description leaves me in the best possible light and I am sure hers does the same for her, but none of that matters. What matters, at least to me, is that the friendship was precious for the time it lasted and that I am grateful to have had the grace it afforded me at the time. As I said, I am not the same person I was last year this time. What all of these good-byes have in common are the thank-yous, and that is the part that buoys me through the difficult good-byes. I have learned to practice gratitude and, having cried the tears I’ve cried, and felt the anxiety of all of those changes, I am left with gratitude and thanks. I am grateful to have worked at my previous job for almost two decades. I am thankful to have met so many wonderful kids and their families. The challenging students and families were a gift in disguise because I learned so much about myself..
I am so grateful to the people who are helping me navigate my mother’s new-normal. I have learned so much from her caregivers, they are my allies in caring for her. I am grateful to my cousins who give me that “we’ve-been-there-and-it-sucks” nod and have seen me through the tears of her forgetting. I am so indebted to my brother who has been our valiant protector and hero for years. I now know how to be there for other people as they walk this journey and that is something I didn’t know at this time last year.
And although I am heart-broken from my lost friendship, I am grateful to have had that friend in my life for all these years. I shall always remember every laugh, every embarrassing moment, the joys, the sorrows, the ups and downs, and everything in between. I learned a lot about life from that friendship. That loss taught me that I need to both give and receive a certain level of loyalty with friends. For me that loyalty is bound to honor and respect and is not negotiable. I am pretty proud about this and grateful for the chance to have had this discovery. As my mentor says “it would be better to have no friends than to dummy yourself down with friends who do not deserve your loyal friendship.” I am a better person for having learned this lesson this year.
There was so much more to 2017, but these are the things for which I am -grateful and to which I am saying good-bye. This was not the kind of year that I would have designed, but it is the year I had. I am grateful to you, 2017, and, at the start of 2018, good-bye!