It’s the kind of thing you don’t see coming. All your plans, so carefully executed, have been successful. In my personal and professional life, after making some course corrections in 2014, things are better than ever. The year ended on a high note with a nice winter vacation to Portland, OR. And then it happened. BAM! 2015 arrived like a bat out of hell.
In hindsight, it started off in 2014. The deaths of two friends in the last half of the year came as a shock, even the one that was not a complete surprise. But it had been a long time since I lost two friends in such close proximity, and from the same social circle. In January, my grandmother entered hospice and died just a few days later. Another elderly relative was rushed to the ER non-responsive, sick with the flu. My cousin’s daughter had a miscarriage. My dad was rushed to the ER in an ambulance with symptoms of a heart attack. A close friend entered major depression after learning he is suffering kidney failure. And I learned that another friend has stage 4 cancer. And three or four friends’ cats died. Honestly, I lost count on the cats.
February has only been a little less harsh. My dad ended up not having a heart attack, but his health scare exposed how vulnerable my parents are. My dad is my mom’s primary care giver, but with his own health concerns, he isn’t as able to help as before, so my sisters and I realized my parents need more help than they are getting. Determined to help them continue living independently, we put some things in place to make it easier, at least we hope so. That has consumed a lot of time and attention, and been really stressful. In the meantime, a friend who is a performer, and much loved in the community, was suddenly stricken with encephalitis while on vacation in Puerto Rico, his first trip abroad. He was evacuated to the U.S. for emergency medical treatment, but died a week later. Another friend’s partner lost his battle with cancer. And then the news came that my partner’s grandmother was in hospice after suffering a stroke, and just as suddenly, she passed away this week.
Amidst it all, we’ve been busy working our butts off while planning a move from the Bay Area to Chico this summer, which is actually a good thing. We are excited to move to a place that has a warm summer after living in the foggy Bay Area for many years. We are excited to move somewhere we can afford to buy a house. We are excited to move somewhere with so many outdoor recreation options where we can live the lifestyle we enjoy getting out to nature. And we are especially excited to move away from the nightmare commutes to and from work.
So, in reality, it’s not turning out to be a bad year at all. It’s just that despite our best plans and doing everything right, life has a way of showing up. And the only thing to do when that happens is to respond to it with as much love and compassion as we can muster, and then courageously take the next steps forward. I can live in fear of what’s going to happen next. Will my friend survive his battle with cancer? Will my parents be able to continue living independently in health and comfort? How much longer is my not-so-young cat going to live? Or I can invert my perspective and see how fortunate I am to have friends I care so much about, to be 47 when my last grandparent passed away, to be in a position to help my parents in their retirement, and to have a 13 year old cat I am crazy about, and, of course, my wonderful, supportive partner. These are the gifts I have right now in this moment. And 2015 is going to be a very good year.