Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Yin and the Yang of 2014: A Personal Reflection

This morning’s paper summed up 2014 for me. Below a column about all the courageous, kindly acts people had performed this year were short articles listing shootings, stabbings and a hit-and-run.
2014 started exactly that way. On New Year’s Eve one year ago, we attended the funeral of our dear friends’ little granddaughter, taken senselessly at 7 years old, a bright, gorgeous, huge personality of a child, with enormous potential and the gift of loving and being loved. On the glad side, my beloved cousin had returned from the brink of death from a heart attack.

In February we went to Florida for our first long stay. We had our brother and sister-in-law with us, we had a lovely rental and a pool, we had our cats. Two weeks later, Sahara succumbed to her lymphoma. Anyone who loves a pet knows the grief is real and deep. 

Our brother and sister, who wept with us, who propped us up and showed that our tears were understood, were our saviors. My daughter and her family visited a week later and kept us laughing, loving, swimming, having fun. It was glorious.

Two weeks after Sahara, we received another shock. Our beloved Rosie, my husband’s mom, was dead. Although death at 95 cannot be unexpected, it was still wrenching. It’s the end of an era, the end of being able to put your head on your mom’s shoulder. And it had only been six months, to the day, since I lost my own mother. Once again we were supported by family and friends, who were there by our sides with hugs and words and whatever else we needed.

Back in Florida, my sister and brother-in-law and cousins kept us enjoying the sunshine, the laid-back life, the treats of a different landscape. Next my husband’s son and his family arrived and once again we had the absolute joy of children’s laughter and energy and we thoroughly loved their company. The house didn’t stay empty very long. Our Very Best Friends arrived and surrounded us, enlivened us, once again.

Although we miss our sojourns to Mexico, we eventually decided that Florida is a good choice for us. We loved bringing our (now solitary) cat with us. We loved having visitors. We also decided to sell our house in Brampton and move to a smaller town. Brantford here we come.

We found the process of moving very stressful, despite the fact that my daughter is a real estate agent and took us by the hands through every step. 
Death of a loved one and moving are in the top 5 stressors according to one website, so I’m not surprised that we found it difficult. We’re happy, though – no, thrilled – with the house that we bought and we’re enamored with the little city and its history. 
The very best part: my daughter lives here. I see her every day, miss her if I don’t. She is my friend, confidante, daughter, along with her brother, the love of my life.

In the fall, a tsunami of joy and grief hit me on exactly the same day. Our adored niece married a wonderful young man. That morning, my best friend Merci died from a stroke. All day I rode the rollercoaster. Tears of happiness, tears of loss, sometimes I couldn’t tell the difference, except that the emotion was more tidal than normal.
Later at the funeral and afterward, I was consumed by the yin and yang, dark and light, grief and joy. I had - have - a propensity for tears.

On November 24, our new granddaughter was in Los Angeles. Once again I was consumed with a barrage of opposites. When we visited, I was smitten, love her instantly, unconditionally, want her to be in my arms every day. When we left, I was devastated. I am not used to having a grandchild this far away.

So many tears! Embarrassing tears in public. A year after the event I weep for my friend’s grandbaby again, feeling an infinitesimal bit of that good-bye.

In my writing career, I was up and down too. Still disappointed that Sweet Karoline, after eighteen months, is not Gone Girl. I am too hybrid in my writing. I hop from evil to a young adult novel to a sexy silly script. None of my books fit a genre or even a sub-sub-genre. But the yang, oh the yang. My publisher still believes in me. I have fans! Readers who write to me, who ask me to appear at their book clubs. Oh what a feeling!  

Now I approach 2015 with bits and pieces of that rollercoaster year still stuck to me. I am normally bent toward the optimistic side, a smidge of a Pollyanna, part dreamer and upbeat old hippy. Currently I cry over everything, happy or sad, as though I have stored the opposites and can’t decide how to react. 

As I finish my short novel, I find it ironic that it’s a cozy, a light and (I hope) funny book unlike the darker fare I’ve produced so far.

Maybe that’s a sign. Maybe 2015 is going to leave the yin behind and focus on the yang. Although Chinese philosophers tell me the two are intertwined, I’m hoping for a bit more light this year, a lot less dark. My Pollyanna side wants food and homes for everyone, a cessation of violence and war, in all parts of the world. My more realistic, self-centred self wants a lot less, but still spectacular things to accomplish.

Whatever is in store, I know one thing for certain. I am very very lucky. More than lucky. I have the best husband, two incredible children and three step-children, along with their partners and children, a loving family, amazing friends, a beautiful home, our lovely Miss Monk (who sits in the sun as I write this), and a writing obsession that keeps me – well, obsessed.

Now, pulling on that yang, I’m going to have a ball with my friends tonight and maybe even finish that funny novella.
Pollyanna wants everything to be perfect for all of you, too, throughout 2015. Thanks for riding the rollercoaster with me.

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