Year in Review
By all standards 2008 was the hardest year of my adult life. In January, my relationship of 3 and a 1/2 years to my boyfriend Ryan ended and I moved out of our place (we'd lived together for almost 2 and a 1/2 years) and in with a new roommate. As I adjusted to this new situation and the inevitable whirlpool of emotions around it my Dad continued to deteriorate as a result of the terminal lung cancer he was diagnosed with in November 2007. He left this world on September 29, 2008 and in some ways it's like time has been put both into slow-motion and high speed fast-forward. With every passing day it sinks in a bit more that the world I live in has not been and will never be the same now that he isn't in it. The ripples of his death resonate in ways that I think I've only begun to feel. Some days it's like I can't accept his absence without feeling like a gaping abyss is opening up beneath me and it will suck me in forever. Other days it's as if everything is the same as it always was. After all, I didn't see my Dad all that often with him living in Florida and all. But when I really look at the world around me closely it isn't the same. Everything is slightly off - the colors wrong, the objects ever so fractionally out of place. And that is how they'll always be until I adjust to the world without my father in it and it becomes my new reality.
In this new world, so many situations that would have seemed cliche now reveal themselves as a natural part of grieving. The saying "you learn who your friends really are" when applied to times of difficulty is 100% completely true. I saw friends who I mostly thought of as "social" friends rally around me during my Dad's death and support me in ways I never imagined they would. I watched as people I thought I was close to drifted away, possibly unable to deal with the difficulty of death. I was reunited with one friend whom I'd fallen out with a few years ago and our friendship both picked up where it had left off and quickly moved forward as both of us had grown and changed so much since our falling out. She came back into my life right as my Dad was nearing his end and she offered up much support without hesitation or a thought for anything that had been difficult between us in the past. At the same time I finally let go of trying to maintain a one-sided, frustrating friendship with someone who loved to call me part of her "family" yet became so increasingly self-involved and invested in being a professional victim that she couldn't even muster a few words of comfort or support for either my breakup or the death of my father. In both situations I was 100% true to myself and chose my paths very consciously. I'm thrilled to have my former friend back and, frankly, relieved to be done with the other. I have no time to suffer fools and anyone who can't spare an iota of their energy in one of my most difficult periods is no friend of mine.
So all of this must seem pretty grim. And yet, as the year draws to a close, I often find myself feeling better than I have in months and months. I still miss my father desperately and I know that is nowhere near ending. But instead of letting everything that's happened this year pull me into some bottomless pit of despair I keep pushing forward into the future, making decisions about my life that focus on progress and personal and professional growth. When I need to put the brakes on and spend the day sitting around in my pajamas watching DVDs and sitting with feelings of loss and loneliness and melancholy, I do just that. I sit with it. It doesn't define and inform my entire existence and I make no decisions based on it. And then the next day or the day after that I stand up, shower off those gray hours and keep walking forward even when the steps feel heavy and uncertain. I don't write this to brag or to present myself as invincible or to get sympathy for being some long suffering victim. I write this to remind myself when I feel completely the opposite of invincible that each day ends and the experiences of that day are as finite as anything else. I remind myself of the last ten years where my Dad and I had the best relationship we'd ever had. I remember the times Ryan and I were truly happy. I think about all the great music I've been lucky enough to help make. I think of all the fantastic songs in the world and how I get to listen to them whenever I want. I think of friends present and past and how each one of them played some role in me being where I am today and how much I cherish and have cherished them. And I remember that every year ends, even the hardest one so far.