Usually I love a good bout of end-of-year navel gazing, but 2015? Hoooo boy. Even after two weeks of vacation time to ponder, I’m not sure I’ve wrapped my head around it. And I feel like I must have stolen the title of this post from a book somewhere, but I’m too afraid to Google it and find out because then I’d feel obliged to change it. Frankly, there’s really no better way than to sum up this past year than “impossible”. If you had told me one year ago that in 2015 I would not only get engaged but get married, and that my seemingly healthy-as-a-horse father would not only be diagnosed with cancer but would die from it, I would not have believed you. And yet, here we are.
I had honestly expected the turn of the calendar page to be a relief, a letting go of all the bad stuff that 2015 brought with it. Instead, I find myself profoundly sad to see it go. Leaving 2015 behind feels like leaving my dad behind…2015 was the last year he saw, and now we move into the beginning of years he will not see. Years we will see without him. We’re doing all the things we’re supposed to do – being brave, putting one foot in front of the other, carrying on with things as he would want us to do. We celebrated the holidays and there were tears, but we soldiered on and remembered Dad; we spoke of him often and enjoyed each other’s company, as he would have wanted us to do. But, as many of you know all too well, there’s a hole there that may in fact get smaller over time, but it will never quite go away.
There were some other disappointments along the way in 2015 – none as significant to me as losing Dad, obviously, but sad in their own right, and I still struggle with them from time to time. I won’t detail it all here, but suffice it to say life isn’t fair and we don’t always get what we want. And sometimes even the good stuff brought stress — like E changing jobs this summer, and the wedding planning that got condensed into 3 weeks.
I barely knit or sewed anything, other than a hat for my dad during his chemo treatments and a few patchwork squares. I just didn’t have the heart for it. I also didn’t write here much – Dad was a pretty private person and didn’t want his illness spread all over the internet, and it was hard not to write about something that was occupying a good deal of my thoughts. I didn’t take very many pictures, either, in part because my camera wound up in a bag with a jug of apple cider, with disastrous results. I also am apparently the only person on the planet who failed the Kon Mari method of decluttering (note that there was never a “Part 2” post). Although we did make a big donation to the thrift shop and another to the Salvation Army, and we have done a good job keeping our living room fairly clutter free, we continue to struggle with Too Much Stuff.
Obviously it wasn’t all bad. I mean, we got married! And I’d do that day over again a million times. It was, as we like to say around here, a Really Good Day. And, shockingly enough for anyone who knows us, the anniversary tier of our cake is still in our freezer, untouched.
Also, I am physically SO much STRONGER! I’ve spent the past year working with a personal trainer once a week. It’s been a very up-and-down process because of various health issues, including the stupid sprained knee, but I am STRONGER! And, my blood pressure last month was 114/70, after running for YEARS at 125/80. Mind you, I weigh EXACTLY the same as I did when I started, but I dropped a dress size, and given the stress (and stress eating) of the past year I’m actually okay with that. Frankly, it’s a miracle I didn’t pack on another 20 pounds.
And then, the little things that make up a year: I discovered I like sushi – at least, the sweet potato and avocado kinds of sushi. (Still not a fan of raw fish.) I went to El Paso, and while it was a work trip it was still interesting, and I’d never been to any part of Texas before so I can cross another state off my list. We did our annual Baxter camping trip, and while I was in agony a good part of the time from the sprained knee, not much can beat sitting at the edge of a pond on a starry night in northern Maine, or driving the Tote Road at dusk listening to classical music and startling a couple of moose. I significantly scaled back our garden this year, because E was on a mission to move house (a mission he is still on, by the way), but I wound up with strawberries and three tomato plants that were successful (the peppers were another story). I saved a little bit more in my 401(k) than I did last year. We bought a new bed. We cooked more at home, a joint project that continues on (helped along by a number of nice kitchen-related wedding presents). We binge-watched Homeland and The Newsroom, and binge-listened the Serial podcast. And, possibly most important of all these little things, we got two of the cats to more-or-less coexist with minimal amounts of growling and hissing. It’s not perfect, but we’ll take it.
So, that was 2015. A truly watershed year. It changed me in ways I don’t think I fully know or understand just yet, and probably won’t know for some time. The Indigo Girls put it best, I think, with their aptly-titled song “Watershed”:
Thought I knew my mind
Like the back of my hand
The gold and the rainbow
But nothing panned out as I planned
And they say only milk and honey’s
Gonna make your soul satisfied
Well I better learn how to swim
Cause the crossing is chilly and wide
Twisted guardrails on the highway
Broken glass on the cement
A ghost of someone’s tragedy
How recklessly my time has been spent
They say that it’s never too late
But you don’t, you don’t get any younger
Well I better learn how to starve the emptiness
And feed the hunger
Up on the watershed
Standing at the fork in the road
You can stand there and agonize
Till your agony’s your heaviest load
You’ll never fly as the crow flies
Get used to a country mile
When you’re learning to face
The path at your pace
Every choice is worth your while
And there’s always retrospect
(when you’re looking back)
To light a clearer path
Every five years or so I look back on my life
And I have a good laugh
You start at the top
Go full circle round
Catch a breeze
Take a spill
But ending up where I started again
Makes me want to stand still
On to 2016…