2016: One Hell of a Year

Well, that;s been quite something, hasn’t it? 

2016 was a year that had opinions about what should happen, made it so, and many of us didn’t like it. For one, it was, in the words of the Toronto Star, “the year the music died.” David Bowie left us in early January and I’m still not over it. I’m also not over the loss of Alan Rickman, Prince, and Leonard Cohen, and the loss of Carrie Fisher is still so raw.

And that’s just the people who make the news when something bad happens to them. It seems as if everyone I knew were facing monumental challenges, as well. There’s been illness, worsening of conditions, intense pain, losses. So much it was about two steps forward and three – or 16 — steps back. We climbed mountains, all of us.

I’ve talked about my mountain quite a bit here on the blog. Nine months ago, I got the flu and almost died, more than once. The Boy says he figures St. Michael’s Hospital saved my life three times over a two week period. That’s a sobering statement.

2016 was a bastard.

But this year gave as much as it took. Children were born all over the world, people fell in love, medical science is helping some live longer, friends saw each other through hardship, we cried together, we laughed together, we lived together.

I survived and not just once. Three times. Somehow miraculously, I survived. And then I lived, for that kind of experience has a way of encouraging you to live just a bit more fully than you were before. For me, that meant looking at the world around me, truly seeing, and realizing just how clear and bright the colours were, how warm the sun, how vibrant the life within animals and people. It doesn’t matter that I am still facing some challenges related to that experience. I’ll figure it out and in the meantime, I will live.

And it meant writing another book. It started as an exercise in getting back my writing mojo and accidentally, astonishingly, turned into an actual book over just a few months. It is a book that I am very proud of, a book that makes my heart happy. I wrote it to help other people with chronic illness and the people who love them, but this little book helped me, too. It helped me find my writing voice again, but also something much more than that. Through writing it, through sharing it with my community, it helped me connect to life in just the way it was meant when I wrote it.

As I’m writing this post, a quote keps popping into my mind. I don’t know much about Shakespeare or how to interpret his work, so who knows if I’m using it correctly. But this is the one:

The quality of mercy is not strain'd,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.
                             The Merchant of Venice, Act 4, Scene 1, 180-187

We forget that life is multidimensional and not just about living. That when given the gift of life, it includes the risk of illness, the risk of death, the risk of hardship. All of that is part of life, not just the living of it. Mercy is multidimensional, too, and not just about getting back your life. Sometimes it’s about peace after a long fight, being held by someone who loves you in the midst of the darkness, or waking up to try again.

2016 tested us and in so doing gave us the opportunity to see the world in its astonishing beauty. It took and it gave.

It was a blessed year.

(nonetheless, let’s hope 2017 leaves us a bit more room to enjoy the beauty of the world)

Happy New Year! 


Rose Cearley said…
And sadly, for the US, we have to live with the disastrous results of our election. I pray we survive it
Rick said…
Lene, I am glad you are joining us in 2017. You had us worried there for a while. We are all better with you in our lives. I just know 2017 will be even better for you.
AlisonH said…
We need you here. Don't go anywhere in 2017, either. Survivors rock!
Like you, 2016 was a bad health year for me, RA-lung worsened and I spent a week in ICU with pulmonary embolism. I'm optimistic for the New year!

Also- the election didn't devistate everybody or he wouldn't have been elected, and what does that have to do with chronic illness??
When they want to gut Medicare, Medicaid, and the ACA...it affects chronic illness.
When they want to gut Medicare, Medicaid, and the ACA...it affects chronic illness.
cathy kramer said…
Happy New Year! I'm so happy that you are here to share it with us. Now, stay healthy friend. You mean a lot to me. ❤

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