Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Another Auld Lang Syne

In his 1980 hit song, "Same Auld Lang Syne," the late singer-songwriter Dan Fogelberg offers up a melancholic nostalgia. The autobiographical lyrics detail a chance encounter with an old girlfriend over the holidays. The pair catch up over beer and compare what's gone right in their lives and what's gone wrong. In the end, they part ways. If you listen closely to the song, the final chord in the lyrics never resolves. We are left with the picture of the singer standing in the rain, longing for what once was and wondering about what could have been.

I have often felt this way on New Year's Eve. I think about what is over and done with. I think about things left undone, words left unsaid, and loved ones who didn't make  it to ring in the new year.

But this year gives me the opportunity to try something different. It's not only the end of the year, but the end of a decade. Time to take stock and look at accomplishments. To be sure, the 2010s is not a decade I'd care to repeat, but along with the struggles came triumphs.

The middle of the decade found me fighting for my health. In 2013, I was suffering from an infection that necessitated the removal of part of my large intestine. I thought I was on the path to good health, but a year later I was diagnosed with breast cancer (you can read more about that by clicking on the topics in the left menu of the blog).

Over the next two years, I had a bilateral mastectomy and reconstruction. What I remember vividly is the hot, sharp pain I was in for months. But just as vivid is the late fall morning when I woke up feeling just a little bit better. The lesson: Nothing lasts forever, not pain, not bad times. Life is a circle.I learned just how strong I am, and I'm currently set up to meet any challenge that lies ahead.

By 2017 I was dissatisfied in the job I'd held since 2005, a scary place to be in your late 50s. I decided to try something new. I was scared. I thought a lot about the adage about old dogs and new tricks. I did it anyway and now do work that fulfills me in ways I didn't expect. The lesson: Jump in. The water's fine. I just needed to remind myself that I'm a good swimmer.

My husband and me in Paris, July 2019
The past 10 years have taught me to hold my family tighter. My stepfather died in 2011 and my mother now lives with me. It was a big adjustment for both of us, but this is the season of life we are in. I've watched other family members struggle with serious illnesses, heartbreak, and career challenges. The lesson: Take no day for granted. Do it now, whatever it is. Celebrate today. In my case, it meant taking a trip to Europe. Nike is right - Just Do It.

Midnight tonight will find me ringing in the new year with the same friends I've been doing this with for the past 20 years. We saw the millennium together. We partied like it was 1999 and wondered if it was the end of the world as we know it. It wasn't. We are lucky. We are all still here and in good health. Tonight "we'll take a cup of kindness yet/For Auld Lang Syne."

I will not wish you a happy new year. I wish you a new year that is filled with challenges met, strength, and contentment. Peace.

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