“We looked great 20 years ago,” she said with a sigh, reflecting on the eve of the millennia when we gave champagne toasts to the new decade. We’d been invited to a country club and I wore a black velvet floor length gown. We gathered in front of the ice sculpture for our picture. Hopeful, joyful anticipation abounded.
Six months later my world changed. The husband I’d kissed at midnight in December was diagnosed with cancer in May. My law practice moved from its office downtown into the century old building we gutted to renovate in between visits with urologists and radiologists and oncologists. We began eating a macrobiotic healing diet (Think miso soup, brown rice, and kale for breakfast). My youngest child moved halfway across the country to start college, at 15.
That was twenty years ago.
As I look to January in my 2020 Frida Kahlo calendar, I realize I look at my life now not just in years but in decades. A decade ago, my mother was still living. Last weekend we marked the 10-year anniversary of her passing, with family traveling from New York, California, DC, and Georgia. I might have predicted that she would not live past 85, but I hoped she might be like her sister, my Aunt Leona, who still receives visitors at 97.
A decade ago, our law firm had 2 attorneys. Today it’s a team of over 20. A decade ago, this December the decision was made that my husband would enter hospice for the final months of his life. A decade ago, I had never written a blog. I’ve written hundreds since. My children lead happy and adventurous lives. I still own that black velvet number (Yes, my 2020 intentions include more letting go) and it still fits.
I don’t remember many of the details of 1999 or of 2009. What I will remember about 2019 is that it was full of ordinary. Beautiful ordinary. Tiny bouquets of miniature roses. The best flan I’ve ever made. Starry skies seen from my rooftop. Best of all, days filled with loving and being loved.
What a year or a decade or a day could hold is best not taken for granted. We might notice it more at the milestones, but in a flash everything could change. In time, it all will.
All best to you in the New Year.
What do you see when you look back on the past year? The past decade?
What can you celebrate? What have you survived? Transcended?
What might be possible and beautiful in your year ahead?