Life Notes: Hello, 2015
Some jittery nerves to welcome the new year

I know this sounds a little “out there,” but I’ve always believed there’s a certain karma about the years that tumble into our lives. I tend to favor even-numbered years. I find odd-numbered years a bit suspect.

So 2015 is feeling a little unsettling as I find myself taking stock, as I always do, in this season of smudged endings and beginnings.

I deliberately go through the pages of my old calendar before I set it to rest in the file drawer in the storage room we’ve created in our house. Nestled among the odd pieces of furniture, the clothing that will never fit again and the backlog of papers we’ll never sort out are my old calendars.

And they get slightly better treatment because I’ve kept my life on these pages. I like to see my days and weeks and months the old-fashioned way. Years later, I want to be reminded of where I’ve been and what I did.

Last year’s final review, before the January 2015 calendar got posted above my desk, was a reckoning. The good, the bad, the in-between scribbled on its pages. Enclosed within the old year were losses that cut deep. Predictably, the longer we live, the longer the list of painful goodbyes.

Last year, one of those was my husband’s law school roommate, our beloved Ed – the same Ed who introduced a young lawyer named Vic to me when I was a college senior.

Ed’s introduction led to a whirlwind romance that began in October and culminated in an early July wedding. Of course, Ed was one of our ushers, and then he married his beautiful Ellen a year later. We all thought this gift of friendship would go on forever. The young see the world through naive eyes.

Ed’s ending came in increments: an illness that grew more serious, a more sudden downturn and then a hospital vigil of several weeks. Saying goodbye to Ed will forever be one of 2014’s saddest markers.

Then, four weeks later, another of Vic’s law school classmates died, the one who sat right next to us at Ed’s funeral. Suddenly and shockingly. That loss surely delivered a grim reminder that not one of us can predict tomorrow. But as I turned back the pages of the 2014 calendar, there also were glorious markers of the year that was.

There were family birthdays and holidays, a grandson’s graduation from high school and beginnings as a college freshman, a wonderful few days on Long Beach Island with the whole clan, and even some cherished milestones in my working life.

Also on those pages were several dates circled in hearts, my calendar symbol for weddings – an automatic cause for rejoicing. Still, I’m overwhelmed by the sheer mystery of a brand new year. About the caprices and randomness of life. I’m January-jittery.

Maybe that’s because I’m old enough to know that life is never neat. At exactly the moment when things feel solid, the ground under our feet collapses, and the metaphoric earthquakes of life explode.

But then I remind myself that in the last month of 2014, we welcomed a tiny, luminous baby boy named James Ian, our great-great (yes, two greats) nephew who’s just a hug away in Princeton. A new inhabitant on planet Earth, with all that implies in the dance of the generations. A new life. A new year.

We begin 2015 with children and grandchildren who remind us that we are that glorious societal unit called family.

By my side is a husband of more than five decades who understands all the hope and anxiety that a new year brings. So it’s on to 2015. Still a blank slate.

Bring it on.

January 2015
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