Have you ever wondered about January 1st? I woke up today and had to google it. It seems many years ago we followed the lunar calendar, to mark agricultural changes, but following the moon’s cycles had to be readjusted every once in a while and the lengths of the years would add or subtract days to keep the years on track with the seasons. Julius Ceasar made the big switch to the Solar calendar, but for a long time in history, March 25th was considered the first day of the New Year, until somewhere the Pope changed it to January 1st. There were actually two calendars used for a couple hundred years in Western civilization. The Chinese and Islamic calendar still following the lunar cycles.
I have always loved New Year’s day. For as long as I can remember, the sky always seemed clearer that day, the sense of renewal in the air. The gyms are always full, everyone starts cleaning up and cleaning ou the old to make room for the new. I stopped making resolutions a long time ago, realizing I have a difficult time doing anything consistently that isn’t a habit, why add extra pressure? I realized a long time ago I was just setting myself up for failure trying to make huge life changes on January 1st.
This last year I found deep friendship and true love. I could have possibly gone most of my life without knowing the true depths of what that is. When I was in Peru, I happened to have a friend on the trip where our friendship had been more than strained. At one point, a long time ago, we had been best friends, but life and struggles got in the way and we barely recognized each other when driving past each other.
God, however, had other plans. 15 years ago she helped me deliver my last daughter. She was on the same medical mission in Peru. She was nearby when I got the horrible phone call at the hospital and I was in full blown shock. She left the mission trip with me and literally dragged me all the way home from South America. Over the last eleven months, she has walked with me, cried with me, watched me crazily paint and craft and try and hold my soul together. I don’t know how I would have made it to 2019 without her.
Another woman I know lost her husband a couple of years ago. Our daughters played together when they were little and we have been friends for years, but until I lost my daughter, I never knew her pain. I saw here tears in church but I never fully understood how they felt, until now. She has seemed to know my saddest hours, and has bought me tickets to two Christian concerts even when I cried through the entire thing, gone to grief group with me and has fed my family way beyond any support group, (knowing I wasn’t cooking) and she has sat with me and cried many, many days. I know God has put us together in each other lives to carry us through this year and the years ahead of us.
There has also been my friend from Bend that drove three hours out here to walk with me in a suicide prevention walk, who organized all the team, all the supplies and helped me function when I couldn’t. I have also had another friend walk with me almost daily, in the first few months, I joked that God had her unemployed from her job just to walk with me. Just moving through those first horrible days were sometimes the only reason I got out of bed that day. She also organized my entire Celebration of life for my daughter, more perfect than anything that I could have ever been planned.
The truth is in 2018, I was blessed with seeing the most amazing kindness in these people that have surrounded my life and my family. They help my girls as they cried, they brought angels and send angels for my angel Christmas tree, they prayed for us, helped build a memorial garden in my yard, helped build a memorial bench on our river, raised thousands of dollars for the memorial bench, and a few more thousand for a suicide prevention walk while walking with us. They have walked with me, cleaned for me, and even have gone grocery shopping with me when I couldn’t do it alone.
Then God placed five women that don’t even know each other, in my life in a weird support group of sorts. After my daughter passed, I found out that my massage therapist had lost her daughter the same way. She reached out to me and has been a guiding light in this storm. A few weeks after that the Oregon Suicide prevention team put me in touch with a mom that lost her son and runs a non-profit organization. She and I have spent hours together for the prevention walk and her auction for prevention and have become friends. She, in turn, told me about her online group, and that is where I met another mom who lost her son the same hour, the same way, the same day. This new friend and I have talked and cried together many times a week, across states online, and soon without ever meeting me, she is going with me to light candles in a church in Sedona on a little spiritual journey I am taking. Lastly, I met another woman in my own small city, that lost a son only months after I did, in a similar way. I felt God pulling on my heart strings to help her. We have walked together and hopefully helped each other. We talk about things only a grieving parent can talk about. 2018 brought me these women. I would have never known them before this tragedy. God literally brought me a support group right to my doorstep.
In this year I learned the depth of my love for my husband in a different way. I knew instantly how this could tear us apart, but I also have found a side of love in my spouse I may have never known before now, for me that kind of bond makes me realize how I have taken that relationship for granted. If anything I can be thankful for 2018 for taking my blinders off. I think grief shows you a part of someone that you could go a lifetime and never see.
My husband and I joke we have learned to not care this year how other’s perceive us. When you are faced with a tragedy, you learn to not sweat the small stuff. In the end, it doesn’t matter. For example, we put up purple Christmas lights for our daughter this year. My other daughter commented that it looked like Halloween. Neither my husband or I cared, we liked them.
Besides finding out what a true friend is, and learning what really matters, we also learned we didn’t care about wasting our time with things that didn’t matter. Why attend an event that you didn’t care about, or surround yourself with people you don’t enjoy being around? I find myself looking for purpose in the things that I do, with less focus on my own achievements and more on how to move forward in a meaningful way.