In my youth, I was a drama major. Much thought went into the comings and goings of characters from the stage. An audience was caught up to speed quickly by the demeanor/attire of the actor as they joined a scene even before they uttered a word. How an actor left the stage was just as meaningful. This is no accident. This mirrors life.
2016 was chock full of entrances and exits. It feels as if there were more of the latter…but that is probably not the case. Newsfeeds have been filled with names of people who deeply impacted our culture and have now left this stage for another. The weight of these losses is palpable across this country. We grieve.
Beyond deaths, we are facing the exit of a First Family that many of us have come to love an rely on and face the entrance of an unknown which many of us fear. News points us to stories of violence and conflicts which have entered the global stage. Countries and cities which we may not have heard of before are now a part of our vocabulary as we shed communal tears for brothers and sisters who have been viciously taken from us. Loss, loss, loss.
There has been deep sadness in 2016.
My husband calls me a pathological optimist. I move toward uplifting, upbeat, up-anything as a reflex. I savor the search for silver-linings and happy-endings and can construct them out of my own will. This year, that has not come as easily to me. Some of the final acts of friendships have been particularly painful. Deaths have brought tears. The Christmas cards that I pinned up this year are missing some faces that are usually there. Gatherings of friends have not included some who used to be regulars. Our holiday bore the weight of painful changes because of the exit of a way-that-things-have-always-been and the unwelcome entrance of how-things-are-right-now. I grieve.
There has been great joy in 2016.
In my little life, so many amazing things have happened this year. Friends have given birth to spectacular babies. Our son fully recovered from a nasty accident. A friend taught me how to sew and I made things. My husband figured out how to scrape the gunk out of my grandma’s pot so it could shine again. People ate and laughed and drank and shared and loved one another at our table far more often than not. My kids could reach all the high shelves for me. Loved ones have recovered from illnesses. We crossed Lake Michigan by ferry. All my greys grew in and I love them. Shoulders were there to cry on. Music continued to reach us. Nature kept filling us with wonder. Faith sustained us. We got to offer some kindnesses. We were offered some kindnesses. I rejoice.
Each year, we enter new and changed by the year past. We exit that very year different. Joys and sorrows shape us. The me-I-was this time last year is not the me-I-am today. That is not to say that there are not constants…of course there are. It is important to remind ourselves that we have been through countless entrances and exits and will continue to do so for the rest of time.
Ready or not…here comes 2017. May it leave us better than it found us.
Here is a glimpse of the family-that-we-are-at-the-moment as we step into this next year of living…