The last of the Christmas decorations have been put away. The last of the guests have left the house. The last of the holiday food has been consumed. I have found myself “stuck” for a few days on what to write for the new year, particularly a new year that, for me, looks very different from the past two. How to start a new year, now holding the baby that we waited so long for? How to start moving that year forward?
How to celebrate when I know many people that are still hurting? That have suffered, or still suffering. That received bad news. The worst news. That are still in limbo. Their families still feel incomplete. To say “Next year will be better!” feels like an insult. To say that a year should be absorbed with all of its lessons implies some type of balance or order to what life throws at us. Grieving people know this isn’t so. They know that life can be uncommonly unfair.
So many phrases are inadequate. It’s not: “I hope this year will be better!” because it might not be. It’s not: “Kick 2017 to the curb!” as if it were a piece of trash that can be swept aside. No platitudes about lessons learned or impending resolutions, as if life were some type of contract of expectations in which we are obligated to give and take.
The idea of “being happy” is scary. Like that being happy opens up the door for heartache again. I felt that way when I was first pregnant with Nelle: I felt so fortunate in my life that I was worried that something would go wrong. And something did go wrong. Now I am back to that place of being afraid to be happy. I love her so much that the idea of anything happening to her terrifies me. Tonight, her cheek was red. Not warm to the touch. No fever. Still happy, still smiling. It is probably dry skin. But in my mind, I rolled over a million unlikely scenarios to explain a red cheek. That happiness, that belief that everything is actually fine? Is a scary place.
I want to say, to myself and others: be gentle. Be gentle with yourself, and with expectations. Put aside comparing one year to another, as if January 1 and December 31 are bookends to a chapter. Be kind to yourself, and others; your love and your hurt.
My only goal for myself this year is to do more of the things I enjoy, which perfectly melds with being kind and gentle to myself. Enjoying my baby will be one way to help me “move” in a way that has felt uncertain. Enjoying my writing continues to fuel my feelings and validate my desire to share a story. Enjoy a bath and a quiet moment on the days that are hard. I wish the same for everyone I care about.