It's finally here. The last day of the worst year I ever hope to have. I am thrilled to be almost done with 2014. It brought me a lot of pain and sadness and frustration. But it also brought me a lot of good things, and I'm going to try and focus on those now.
I was given the chance to reconnect in more meaningful ways with a lot of friends. Friends I hadn't spoken with in 5 or more years. Friends I had inadvertently hurt and not been able to patch things up with. Friends who were really more like people I knew in the past but we hadn't been friendly in decades. My life would be a whole lot different if I hadn't made or remade the connections, and really exercised them. I went outside a lot of boundaries I had put in place when I became a parent. I went back to see rock shows. I jumped up on stage at the Clarendon Grill with Gonzo's Nose for the first time since 2009. I traveled and saw friends old and dear to me, celebrated birthdays and new homes and new babies. I tried to leave my baggage at the door when I got there, too, and will keep trying to do that in years to come. Everyone knows I have the baggage. I don't have to carry it everywhere.
I was given the chance to give a gift I never really wanted to give to my parents. They probably knew what I was capable of, but never wanted me to have to prove it to them. I wouldn't have had February in me if it weren't for them and my siblings. It didn't occur to me that everyone would just drive to me on the 1st. But they did. They came as soon and as safely as they could. They handled the things I could not handle: phone calls, printing programs, finding long-lost items in the house that belonged to Connor, cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc... Each of us showed our parents what we are made of, which is them. I'm proud to have been able to give them a tangible gift of knowing that, but despise the reason behind it.
I was given the chance to succeed despite what felt like insurmountable odds. It was certainly hard to go back into the office, to keep working and plugging away and making things happen. My friends and my clients all worked with me to help me meet or exceed my goals for 2014, goals made before any bad thing happened. I am indebted to them for their faith in me, and their support.
I was given the chance to start over, living a more active and healthful life and showing Drew and Tucker that it's important to take care of yourself. So much of my energy and time went into caring for Connor that I wasn't able to be better about my own health. Some of that came home to roost in July with the skin cancer diagnosis. I may have had cavities at my last dentist appointment, but if I did they honored my request that they just lie to me and tell me my teeth look fine. Overall, I'm a little healthier, at least physically.
I was given the chance to learn what grateful truly feels like. We received hundreds of cards and notes. Probably more than a dozen arrangements. An amazing outpouring of donations to the two organizations we indicated. My sister's Team-in-Training fundraising more than doubled her target, and she redirected some of the donations to others on her team so they could meet their goals. The Arc of Northern Virginia informed us in August that the donations total in Connor's honor exceeded $10,000. There have been more donations since then. These are gifts I cannot match, though my heart swells with gladness that such love surrounded my little one.
Lastly, I was given the chance to take what I'm feeling and write it out in words and share it with people in a way I never did before. This blog still feels like a vanity project, but I'm grateful for all the reads, the comments, and the conversations it's started.
Happy new year to all of you, and thank God 2014 is done. I won't miss you, worst year. And by the way, that's not a challenge to any upcoming year to try and beat it. Really. I'm well satisfied thinking that this is the worst.
To go back to the song that got me through Connor's diagnosis, and those bleak days in February this year, "It's times like these, you learn to live again. It's times like these, you give and give again. It's times like these, you learn to love again. It's times like there, it's time, it's time again."