“New Year’s eve is like every other night; there is no pause in the march of the universe, no breathless moment of silence…yet no man has quite the same thoughts this evening that come with the coming of darkness on other nights. The vast and shadowy stream of time sweeps on without break, but the traveler who has been journeying with it cannot be entirely unmindful that he is perceptibly nearer the end of his wanderings.”
— Hamilton Wright Mabie
As I write this post set to publish in just a few hours, I find myself once again taking part in a somber vigil, this time from a distance. Jeff’s mother, who was at his deathbed with us less than 15 months ago, is expected to pass from this life within hours. She is surrounded by her daughters and grandchildren who will stay with her, as she stayed with us during Jeff’s last two days of life.
Those who have been reading this blog for several years already know that our family’s losses have come with a regularity that inevitably deepens the comprehension of mortality hinted at in Mabie’s quote. In October 2014, we experienced the unexpected death of Larry, who was frequently with us here. In September 2015, we lost Daddy just as suddenly. In October 2016, Jeff died; his burial ceremony was held at Arlington National Cemetery in March 2017. Then, in May of this year, Mama died. The tearful farewells and graveside visits leave us unavoidably aware that each of us, whether we live a relatively long life or die young, are moving ever closer to the end of our own time on this earth.
If you are thinking that this is a gloomy way to begin a new year, I don’t blame you for wanting to shift focus a bit. Accordingly, I invite you to re-visit the post I published two years ago on this date. Reading over it tonight, I was struck by how scarcely I imagined the crises and ultimate heartbreak that would face me in 2016, and yet how relevant my thoughts about that year remain when seen in retrospect, however ignorant of forthcoming events I was at the time I wrote.
At this particular moment, I have little to offer in the way of sunny thoughts or bright resolutions. Instead, I pledge to you my steadfast appreciation for your presence, our shared gratitude for the abundance of life, and our determination to make this an online refuge where all are welcome, and where we can gather without fear, condemnation or anger, united in our common resolve to defeat despair.
I pray that all who read these words will be blessed with a year of growth, compassion, connection and deep joy. In that spirit, I wish you a Happy New Year!