2017 has not been an easy year. Matter of fact it has been a hell of a year. The kind of year that has left most of us battered, bruised, and bleeding. Yet, at the end of it, most of us remain here. We are still standing. No small feat.
The ‘badness’ actually started in late 2015; and no, it was not (at least directly) related to the Orange Menace but to the latest visit of the Malignant Cell Monster to our family. Though we were able to close that year on a slightly hopeful note, during the first week of January it became obvious that my sister’s husband was not going to defeat the Monster. He passed after a short but fierce battle leaving my sister without her sweet soulmate, best friend, and stage partner.
In the blink of an eye she became an unemployed widow. And she could have easily chosen to remain that, to be defined by what had happened to her. She was certainly entitled to wallow on her own misery (at least for some time). But she didn’t. She allowed herself to feel the pain but unfailingly faced it.
I stayed with her long enough to get her through the first practical hurdles of suddenly finding herself to be single and surviving business owner at the end of a year. We soldiered through the filing the last quarter taxes, credit card cancellations, mortgage decisions, figuring out a budget and how long she could make it without finding herself a job.
Amid this heartbreak, I marveled at her courage and resilience. She handled herself with such grace, goodwill, and dignity! She put in her all; blood, sweat and tears, into forging a life of her own.
My heart burst with pride.
This year also brought us moments of Joy: my husband and I had a great Italian vacation filled with many moments of adventure and wonder, my high school classmates started getting back in touch and reconnecting to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of our graduation, but the crowning and most intense moment was the engagement of our daughter.
My very own baby girl was all grown up and ready to embark on a big adventure of her own. My heart beamed with pride.
Shortly after our return from Italy it became painfully obvious that my mother needed help managing her finances (an understatement). Something I had actively avoided and dreaded for a long time. Not long afterwards we realized that she also needed help keeping up with her many health appointments. This broke my heart not only for her, but also for all of us siblings. We had to accept that the mother we knew has begun to fade. A tough pill to swallow. Matter of fact, we are still working on it.
Just as we were finally getting all these things sorted out, the unspeakable happened.
And everything changed. Everything.
Enough has been written in the media about the storm, and more importantly, its aftermath, that I feel no need to go into there. Yes, it was every bit as horrible as it was reported to be, and then some.
We sustained almost no physical damage to our house, but it was the days ahead that were a trial. The only thing I will add is that the weeks that followed could have been a great prequel to The Walking Dead.
The endless routine of searching for basic necessities, hiking up to the highest spot in the area to be able to get cellphone signal, mile-long lines for gas… The High School Reunion Party? Cancelled. The Sister Trip to Barcelona? Cancelled. The Relaxing Sojourn with the hubs to the Málaga? Cancelled.
During this (literally) dark period, once in an infrequent while I would be able to connect a phone call to my daughter. She became my lifeline.
Task after task I requested from her, she managed with minimal instructions or directions. She spent days on the phone and web trying to get our refunds from the trip cancellations, making payments, rescheduling appointments, helping to salvage the Sister Trip for her aunt, and trying to get my mom off the island just to name a few. Not many 24yr-olds would have winged that as seamlessly as she did.
I was proud of my sister for going on that unexpectedly solo trip. I was even prouder of her for having a blast.
I was proud of my daughter for managing under duress. For the very first, and I’m sure it won’t be the last, our roles were reversed. She became my rock.
I have never been as proud of the daughter the Good Lord has gifted me with as when she stepped up to the plate and volunteered to take in my mother in for 2 months during the hurricane aftermath.
I was also proud of myself this year. I was proud that I made it through more than 75 days without electricity or internet with minimal breakdowns. I was proud to let the control-freak stand aside and let others do. I let go of so many things… yes, I am proud.
I was proud of the man I chose to be my husband as he unfailingly strived to make life easier for both of us after the hurricane.
At the end of this eventful year we are still dealing with many things as a family. Some dearly beloved people have chosen to set fear and doubt aside and take charge of their lives so that they can passionately head in whichever direction Destiny has in store for them. I am proud of them.
My tribe is a courageous tribe. I am proud of each and every one of us.