Updated: Jul 24, 2022
Purple hull peas and ham hock warm in the slow cooker as the sweet scent of fresh-baked banana bread wafts through my tiny home. Sleeping puppies sprawl before a fake fireplace, and Nixie huddles in her traditional bread-basket position on the sofa on this cold, rainy, grey winter day. The last day of an impossible year. A terrible, tragic year.
The worst year, and the best year.
I’ve struggled. Admitting that is hard for me, for someone who is used to being completely independent, self-sufficient, an island unto myself. You’d think those traits would serve me well in pandemic lockdown. Social isolation was pretty much my lifestyle choice.
I can’t exactly pinpoint when the depression set in. Suddenly, it was always there, like a stray cat I’d fed once or twice because it looked hungry, and now it was just my cat. And it was always hungry. I quit writing because it needed tending. I had trouble sleeping because it kept jolting me awake. It walked across my desk, back and forth, slow, pacing, heedless of my attempts to work. It stared at me through headlines that grew crazier by the day, through breaking news, through the endless montage of lies and bickering and conspiracy theory.
How can this go on? I would ask it. Why can’t we catch a break?
Never before had Yeats’ words held such weighty meaning for me:
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Things fall apart. I hesitate to even write about “my year” because the challenges I faced seem frivolous. I lost a beloved cousin, a shining light of love and kindness in our family, but so many have lost loved ones. I spent most of the year alone as Joe embarked on Operation Mo’ Money, taking a job as an OTR trucker, but many couples have had to be separated for one reason or another. The kicker came in November, when my job was eliminated, putting me back in the market during the second major recession of my lifetime. But I'm hardly alone there.
And yet there is tremendous gratitude for what this year has taught me about all the good I have in my life.
For my best friend, who never fails to make me laugh, who loves me, who believes in me.
For our furbabies, my boon companions, endless sources of joy and pure love.
For family, who always have our back. For our children and grandchildren, whose future we fight for every day.
For friends both distant and near, virtual and in-person. (How humbled I’ve been to find out just how many I have!)
For the beauty of the Earth, our Mother, our home.
For voters who turned out in record numbers to say no to isolationism, nationalism, racism, misogyny, and ignorance.
For scientists, medical professionals, and essential workers, who are doing more than their fair share.
For mask wearers and handwashers.
For Black women.
For truth tellers and freedom fighters.
We’re in a tight spot, dear friends. Things have fallen apart, and the pieces lie scattered across a treacherous plain.
Here there be dragons.
But this too shall pass. This too shall be an opportunity to try again. To build and rebuild. Better. Stronger. More lovingly.
We got this, y’all. I love you.
Happy New Year. For real.