Hello, New Year

I see your hope and optimism, your big dreams and courageous goals. I see your positive thinking, your ambition, your resolved commitment. This is going to be your year – for happiness, for financial security, for physical fitness, for love. I see you wishing all the best for the year ahead, for friends, for family, for strangers. I see it all, and I cheer you on, and I hope all good things for you, and for everyone.
As for me, I’m stepping through this threshold a little more cautiously this year.

Christmas, without my mom, was difficult but not as overwhelmingly painful as I’d feared. Then my aunt died that afternoon, and that brought fresh grief for my whole family. But the funeral, the time with family, the holiday gift-giving and celebrating – all of it was sweet. And my mom’s absence was so large that, in a way, it felt like its own presence. She was everywhere I looked. She loved Christmas and was an extravagant gift-giver, and I saw her in everything we did.

The turn into the new year has been more difficult. I didn’t expect it, quite honestly. I was braced for the grief of Thanskgiving and Christmas, but not this. Part of it is the flood of memories of New Years Eve past, which we always celebrate with my parents. But more than that, I think, is the sense of how hard and strange it feels to be entering a new year without my mom. It’s like the turning of the calendar is taking me further away from her. What’s more, I am daunted by the realization that the new year may hold more unexpected losses and unforeseen grief. This time last year, I had no idea how hard 2015 would be, and how many losses it would contain. 

This is not to say that I don’t have my own big dreams and deep hopes for the coming year, because I definitely do. It’s just that I’m entering this year from a more tender, more vulnerable place than before. I’m more aware of my own fragility, of the fragility of everyone, of everything. This means I’m starting 2016 with less a sense of steely determination and more a sense of a soft heart. This feels like a good thing (even though it’s a hard thing), because it is giving me clarity about what really matters, about what lasts and what doesn’t, about what to hold lightly and what to embrace fiercely. And it is leading me to a more profound desire for real relationships, authentic selfhood, and a daily commitment to kindness and gentleness and compassion. 

I am writing this on my phone, from the road, which feels appropriate. Because I am on a journey – we all are – and even the best parts of it will pass. So will the hardest parts. I don’t know everywhere this road will lead, but I have a better sense of the kind of person I want to be as I travel. And I have a clarified commitment to be kind to fellow travelers.

It could be that you, too, start this year from a place that doesn’t feel entirely celebrative or optimistic or determined. If so – I see you, too. I see you, and I hope you will be gentle with yourself, and kind. 

In the meantime, whether you are in a happy place or hard one, Louie would like to cheer you on:

  
Happy New Year, dear readers. (I’ll be back soon with crafting!)

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14 thoughts on “Hello, New Year

  1. Stacey, I found your words very moving, and they resonated greatly with me. Wish you all the very best for 2016. I have enjoyed your blog very much, so thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings with us all.

  2. I know what you are feeling, and what you mean about the new year making you feel more distanced. My mother always used to say that you never really get over a loss, you just get used to it, and I have to say for me that has been the case.

    I hope your new year is more good than bad and that next year at this time, you can hardly remember any bad things. 🙂

    And thank you for that pup video!

  3. Oh how I hear you…. I too am in reflective mood; thinking about my Dad, and wishing I could still just pick up the phone…
    But. here we are in this new place. 2016 – welcome; 2015 – farewell – thanks for glimmers of light in the darkness
    Thanks for your writing this year my dear friend – you are an inspiration xxx

    • Thank you, Julie, I know you understand. I’ll never forget how you were a light in my darkness the night I sat in the waiting room while my dad was having emergency surgery this summer. Blessings on you!

  4. Oh wow – how eloquently you write , your words brought me to tears as they resonate so strongly with my feelings of the new year too. Having lost my Dad on Christmas Day 11 years ago this time of year is bittersweet for me. Thank you for your beautiful reminder to us all of what is truly important and advice to be gentle with ourselves too.
    Hugs to you Shareen Singh

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