I did pretty good about staying away from Facebook and this blog until 2016, but I just couldn’t let the year end without waxing philosophical as I am prone to do around the beginning of a New Year.

Last year, Shey and I actually sat down and wrote down some things (at my insistence) that we wanted to see improve over the year. I honestly couldn’t tell you right now where that sheet of paper is or what was on it, but I can tell you that it really doesn’t matter much. We made it through another year. Together. We’ve learned lessons, had a lot of laughs, and came through some really difficult decisions with our relationship not only intact, but stronger in many ways.

Mentally, emotionally, physically – 2015 changed me so much.

I left my job of 8 years to rejoin the ranks of the Bank where Shey and I first met. I am now doing something completely different than what I was doing this time last year and enjoying the mental challenge that it gives me. I am working with and for some great people and that part of my life is in a good place.

My paternal grandfather passed away. He had been in bad health for years, and my dad, along with his siblings had been caring for him at home. Dad would usually spend a minimum of 3 nights a week with his parents to take care of BigDaddy and just about the time he was adjusting to being at home every night again, the addition to their house was finished and my maternal grandmother was moving in to it. Talk about changes! For her and for us.  The move itself was pretty exhausting for all of us. Moving 80+ years of a person’s belongings was a challenge and she is still looking for things that are probably in a box in storage. But Mawmaw is settled in, and she and my parents are finding their new normal, one day at a time.

Reagan’s dad moved to Savannah, Georgia. Her every other weekend visits with him have turned into more of an every 5 or 6 week visit for one day before he has to turn around and drive back. It has been an adjustment for her, but, as she always has, Reagan rolls with all that life throws at her with amazing resilience. In fact, despite these pretty big changes, she’s had one of the best years academically she’s ever had. She’s always been a smart cookie, but her grades and her grasp on new concepts have completely blown my mind this school year. I sometimes forget that even though she is 12 years old, that mind of hers is still developing and her understanding of things can change very quickly as that happens. It can be a tad bit frightening!

I had a total hysterectomy, which has proven to be one of the best physical decisions I have ever made for myself. I no longer find myself constantly exhausted or in chronic pain, and have been able to stop taking all medications with the exception of something to help me sleep through the night. I have health goals for the rest of my life that I will actually be able to ATTAIN now that the exhaustion and pain no longer hold me back. I am thankful for my health and have loved every minute of feeling “normal” because I think it’s the first time I’ve felt that way physically since…….I don’t know when. I am so much more sympathetic to women who face chronic issues such as Fibromyalgia, Endometriosis, and other autoimmune disorders: many of which have no medical solution that could improve their physical situation.

I’m taking a Lay Reader’s course for my church – allowing me to become “licensed” to serve in certain areas. I’d almost rather get another college degree! I think it’d be easier. But it’s definitely fun to be an “academic” of sorts again. I love my little church, the people there have become such an important part of my life. Becoming an Episcopalian in general has both cost and gained me some friends over the last few years. It’s been and continues to be an interesting journey, this change of denominations. I consider it one of the best decisions I ever made.

So, we’ve had a busy year. We’ve had highs and lows, as usual. And then over the last few weeks, there has just been a series of sudden and unexpected deaths in our community. Some I knew, some I didn’t. But in any case, the sobering hand of mortality seemed to reach out and shake me out of my busyness and say, “Look! Look around you!”

There’s a song that says, “So take the photographs and still-frames in your mind”. I’ve been doing that a lot lately. I just look at people. My grandmother. My daughter. My mom. My husband. My sister. My dad. People that I love, my family and my precious friends. I wish sometimes I could just stop time, right where it is, just to enjoy certain moments a little bit longer. You hear all the time when you’re a kid how “time goes by so much faster when you’re older” and god, is it ever true. This year has spun by so quickly, it seems like I was just washing out the pot where I cooked last New Year’s black-eyed peas!

I’m a big fan of New Year’s Day. I’ve spoken of it often – that clean slate kind of feeling. A fresh start.

This year though, I don’t want to wipe the slate. I want to look back on it. I want it to remind me daily that while I say I recognize how short life is, all it takes is one tragedy to remind me that no, I really don’t. I say I do, and then I get busy and preoccupied and forget again.

I want to remember what it was like to feel horrible every day so that I am thankful for every day that I wake up with energy and strength and remember to be kind and helpful to those who are still fighting their physical battles.

I want to remember how miserable I had gotten in my career, and how good it felt to come back to a place that challenges me.

I want to move forward in the New Year, but not “start over” because starting over implies that I will let go of this year. And there are parts of it that are too valuable to forget.