Sadness at the dawn of 2018

At the dawn of 2018, I find myself thinking of those I lost and what J lost in 2017. Facebook is sometimes the salt in this wound. Memories pop up from five years ago, or even two, and I am hit between the eyes with what J can no longer do or apprehend.

Was it just two years ago that we went to the Christmas Spectacular in New York? Did she gleefully vote merely 14 months ago? Either of those activities would be impossible now.

J’s increasing deficits, not surprisingly, make me sad. They are compounded by other wounds — the mysterious death earlier this year of a kindred spirit, and the sudden passing of a new friend much too young just before Thanksgiving.

The poet Elizabeth Bishop wrote, “The art of losing isn’t hard to master.” But it is. And it isn’t.

There was a marvelous article in the Sunday New York Times about a group of people over 85 and their outlook on life. “If they were not always gleeful, they were resilient and not paralyzed by the challenges that came their way. All had known loss and survived. None went to a job he did not like, coveted stuff she could not afford, brooded over a slight on the subway or lost sleep over other events in the distant future . . . each welcomed another morning, the start of another year.” (

A comment from an old, dear friend was even more instructive. In response to my message, accompanying the above photo of our blooming hyacinths, “Even in the darkest times, growth happens,” she wrote: “I am optimistic that things will — and must — turn toward the light.” This from a woman who lost her beloved teenaged son 10 years ago.

P reminds me that we cannot feel loss without something to lose. Unlike J, whose memories have been stolen by Alzheimer’s disease, I still have mine. And the ability to make new memories. Time to turn towards the light. Happy New Year, all.

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