We are not big on New Year’s Eve in my family. Many years I’ve been the only one awake; some years, as my kids got older, I was awake waiting for them to get home from their festivities. This year, Nathan was at a party with his girlfriend, so it was just Kaleb, me, and Kendell at home (a precursor to this year, I think, as Nathan will be graduating this spring and then moving on to as-yet-to-be-determined adventures). We drank blood-orange bubbly out of my grandma’s purple cups and hugged each other and then Kaleb went back downstairs (as he’s in that grumpy-adolescent phase of life and was annoyed that we didn’t have a party to go to).
In a bit I’m going to make myself a cup of hot chocolate, sit in the front room by the little tree, and read (Future Home of the Living God) while I wait for Nathan to get home.
But I wanted to write down some feelings I’m having right now.
There are many things that surprised me about 2017. I didn’t think I’d actually find myself in Hawaii, snorkeling with bottle-nose dolphins, but I did. I didn’t think I’d find myself in an ugly depression, but I did (and I am climbing out). Last January 1st, I had no idea that in a few months, I would stand in a bookstore reading a part of an essay that I wrote and had published, nor did I know how simultaneously scary and thrilling that experience would be. I didn’t know I would strain both popliteus muscles by running, terrified, across three miles of beach searching for Kaleb (thank God Nathan managed to run faster than me and find him). I didn’t imagine hiking Bryce Canyon in a rainstorm or the trails on Santa Cruz Islands. The possibility of returning to New York City seemed remote at best.
2017 held some really, really great moments. I have learned quite a bit about myself, especially in my role as the mother to emerging adults. I’ve read a lot of books (but not as many as I wanted to read), I’ve made quite a few scrapbook layouts and baby quilts; I ran and hiked (but not as often as I wanted).
And all year, I was holding my breath.
Because so many medical things have happened over the past few years. Scary, life-threatening things. And I have lost my belief that they won’t just keep on happening to my family. So, all year, I have held my breath, I have worried, I have woken in the night beset by fear: what would happen next?
But, aside from that depression, and quite a few dermatology appoints for all three boys (Accutane for Nathan and wart treatments for Jake and Kaleb), and Nathan’s hernia surgery this summer, 2017 was a good year for us. Kendell had no heart emergencies and I didn’t sprain my ankle once, let alone twice like in 2016. No one needed stitches or a cast or even, I don’t think, antibiotics.
I am writing that in a whisper; I want to acknowledge the blessing of it but not draw too much attention to it, either, so as to keep the dangerous eye of the Fates away from us.
I’m certain that 2018 will also bring experiences I cannot, tonight, imagine or predict. I hope there is more running, more hiking, more time spent with my husband and kids. More time spent developing and strengthening relationships with my mom, sisters, and friends. I hope my mental health (and Jake’s) continues to improve. I hope I have a productive year: finish the half-made quilts lying about, tell lots of stories, write (and submit) more. I’m tentatively planning on running a marathon this summer, and hopefully some halves, too. I cannot let another summer go by without hiking Timp, and I’d like to do Lone Peak as well.
But more than anything, what I hope 2018 brings us is simply this: good health. Come what may, vacations and graduations and kids moving back in and kids moving out and celebrations and average, normal days...just health. I have been reminded all over again, these last three weeks when my mom has been in the hospital, how tenuous our lives are. There are so many things that can happen or go wrong; I dare not forget that the cliché is true, if we don’t have our health we have nothing. No more long days spent in hospitals, no more healing from surgery or watching the progress of healing incisions.
I am taking a deep breath and feeling brave by throwing this out to the universe, but there it is: what I really want this year is for everyone to be healthy and safe.