Life has a way of teaching you lessons, even when you'd prefer not to be a student. Unlike college, where you can choose to drop a course and then add it to a later semester with a lighter course load, life doesn't concern itself with your preferences with regards to timing. It brings you what it brings you, and it does so according to its own schedule.
2012 has been in many ways for me, a year of loss. Budget cuts led to the loss of a job I loved and held for over 25 years, I lost friends due to busy schedules and differences of opinions and most recently, I lost two friends to cancer. I will be the first one to admit that many of these losses rocked my world so far off its axis, I wondered if I would ever find balance and peace again. Somewhere along my journey, I discovered that I am stronger than I thought, enjoy my own company more than I realized and that while subdued at times, my creative monkeys are still alive and well.
I can still find humor in conversations with my mother, even when she states that my drinking of a glass of wine once or twice a week makes me "dangerously close to being classified as an alcoholic". I remind her that playing a Wagner LP at 45 rpm because she believes that his music is too sad when played at its intended speed of 33 rpm makes her "unquestionably classified as being tone deaf." On the ropes, she counters with her often used attempt at a bribe, "Marry a man and I'll buy you a house." I counter with, "Go on a date with a woman and I will buy you a toaster." We call it a draw... for today anyway.
Yesterday, there was a Memorial, followed by a party to celebrate the life of my friend Beth who passed away last week, after battling cancer for years. In her final days, Beth had said to me, "I don't want weepin' and a wailin’; I want a party with laughter." And that's exactly what she got. Beth was there yesterday as her family, some by blood and some by choice, celebrated her life. The common theme among the stories that were shared was how Beth had the uncanny ability to bring people together, to make everyone laugh and to make everyone feel loved.
My friend Jim also passed away last week. Jim was my mentor, my friend and taught me that unconditional love can exist between two people. He always said that was a challenge for him when it came to me due to what he called my unquestionable lack of taste in baseball teams. I called him "Immy" and he called me "Wicked One". He would teasingly ask me if I got splinters from riding around on my broom and I would ask him if looking at the pinstripes on the NY Yankee uniforms made him as nauseous as their playing made me. We discussed everything; no topic was off limits, and while we did not always see eye to eye, we always held the other in the highest regard. Our conversations would always end the same way...
"I love you Wicked One"
"I love you more Immy"
"That's impossible Wicked One"
So while this year has brought many losses, I realized that it also has brought me many gifts. Every day that I was blessed to share my life with Beth and Jim brought me another day where I got to love and be loved by two remarkable human beings. Beth and Jim may not be alive in the physical sense, but they will always live in my heart. And so, while I continue to grieve the loss of these two dear people, I try to honor their memories by finding joy in something every day and by remembering the riches that can be gained when one chooses to love and be loved.