Many people have wanted to boot 2016 out the door faster than a blink of an eye. The year has been painful for lots of us. Bring on 2017, the cry rises. I must confess that as each calendar page turned, I was not joining that chorus. No, I longed for 2016 to linger. I did not care how much tragedy occurred around me–I still saw the goodness. I wanted to savour the 12 months that would supposedly be my last. I am in month 11 of my 12-month prognosis. May I say that I lovingly thank 2016 for all that it has given me?
I look back over the year and I am grateful that I have been remarkably well (everything is of course relative) after recovering from chemo. It is not what I had envisioned at all when I made certain decisions. I had expected to be much sicker by now and much more fatigued than I am. Few people who do not know my situation would figure out that I am sick. People are often shocked when they hear the news for the first time. A woman I know who works at a store looked at me a few weeks back as I walked in, saying, “I think those doctors have made a mistake. You are not sick.” I wish it were so.
Tonight is the second anniversary of this wild adventure’s “start”. It was New Year’s Eve 2014 when the new family doctor I had been seeing asked me to come in that day to discuss the results of my ultrasound. She also did a complete physical. She told me of the mass on my liver. Whoever read it thought it was benign, but my doctor seemed quite unsettled. I finally asked how big it was. Big, was her only response as she stared at the computer screen. She ordered a bunch of tests and rushed me through the medial system. Later we would find out it was not benign and was in, not on, the liver. She would get me the very best surgeon for me and he would do an amazing job that has bought me time. I am so overwhelmed some days at how blessed I have been through this medical maze. The professionals have been utterly amazing.
To say that these past two years have been somewhat surreal is an understatement. In outward ways, my life has changed dramatically. For example, I have stopped working and resigned from almost every board and committee that I was on. I have slowed my pace down to a semi-crawl in my perspective (arguable, I know). People do not see the physical changes that I do–for the most part, I do look more or less the same. Inwardly, I am more or less the same creature I have always been, but perhaps even more reflective and insightful to some degree. My reality is tinged with the great sorrow of leaving and the tenacious hope of Going. I will miss my life here but I know that where I will eventually go, when that expiry date arrives, is where I have always wanted to be.
Tonight I did something that I love to do–I read the article on prominent people in my province who have passed away. I often know quite a few personally but this time I only knew one, a man from my church. The reason I love to read this story is that the life summaries are beautifully written. Here are some samples of the opening lines of some of the deceased: She served hot dogs and french fries. He loved football. She was a war correspondent. She bowled. She mentored a generation of journalists. He grew things. She helped her community. He sold ice cream treats. He helped people around the world walk. He was a landscape architect who helped to create some of the most beautiful places in the city. He was a farmer turned car dealer. She inspired others. He created the province’s largest hospital. She entertained a generation of children. He was a blue baby. He repaired hearts. He fed people in the North End. He helped all students get educated in the province. She started a typist and ended up running a hospital. He helped his Jewish and LBGT communities. She cared about people. She preserved language for the Metis people.
These are simple tributes. They sum up the life of the famous and the not-so-famous-by-name-but-by deed. Many of these humble people are remembered for what they did. I am not sure what people will say about me when that time comes. She…..Some of the verbs above I hope will fit: served, mentored, helped, inspired, created, entertained, repaired, fed, cared. When I look back at 2016, I know these to be true both in a giving and receiving capacity. That is why I am in no hurry to say goodbye to 2016. It was a fabulous year. You have fed me with both real and spiritual food. You have served me through my needs. You have inspired me by continually showing up and carrying on despite being beaten down. You have helped me to see the goodness that is here now. You have created relationships that I treasure. You have repaired a world in need of hope. You have entertained me with laughter and beauty. You have cared for me immensely. How could I want to say goodbye to that? No, 2016 has not been an awful year for me. This year has held too many blessings to say that.
Forgive my self-indulgence as I lovingly kiss 2016 goodbye, with a heart full of gratitude for seeing every last second of it. I will move shortly to my window to watch the second round of fireworks to bid adieu to this year and welcome the new. I will raise a glass of water thankfully and bow my head for a quiet moment in prayer when it is all said and done. All the best to you, dear readers, in the coming year.
What verb would you want people to use in a summary of your life?
What blessings did you receive during 2016?
Creator of the Universe, you alone know the numbers of our days. Like a stunning fireworks display, I wonder with each new gasp at the beauty of it all, if this will be the last. Keep my heart grateful for as long as the show goes on. Help me to stay in the moment and not worry when the end will arrive. Good-bye, old year. Thank you, dear God, for the blessings received. Amen.