New Year 2017 was a quiet affair at our place. I have a steady Saturday volunteer gig that I don’t miss for anything. Now yeah, there’s a lot of Saturday nights I don’t want to go. I want to stay home with my lovely husband and children. But I go, unless I’m in the hospital or called out of town.

So tonight I got dressed up a little, a hooded dress of my own making, a little eyeliner, a deep red lippie. The closer my hair is wrapped up and the larger my hoop earrings, the more secure I feel!

I had to pick a friend up. I’m off through the streets of Aberdeen, which are innately familiar. I’m a night person but New Year’s Eve others are obliged to join me. Lights in restaurants and taverns; a few souls out on the street but it’s cold, snow mixed in with the rain. I know people are gearing up to carouse, or maybe they’ve already started. A friend of mine is nearly run off the road by a drunk driver.

I’m to a little corner building, flipping on lights while another friend brews the coffee. A vigil, here for those who observe life’s triumphs and travails without the use of drugs or alcohol.

As much as I love the holidays, I’ve come to know that they are a hard time for many people. I figure since I’ve been okay for holidays, I love them in fact, I can be there for others. Maybe one day my time will come, and it won’t be so easy.

The coffee: hot, dark. Delicious. I have half a cup. Alongside my quart jar of water. I still get the moonshine jokes. I’ve never had a drop of moonshine in my life!

I welcome a man who is new to the area. He’s just moved, and he’s exhausted. I get to talk with a woman I see now and then. I’m thinking of a man I knew. I can see him crystal clear. He was older. He was on oxygen. He wasn’t healthy. I can’t remember his name but I remember his face. He would come in from the beach to sit with us. I grew to a swift affection. Where is he now? His name will come to me. Is he still with us? Is he sick? Is he well?

So many come and go. I can’t keep up with them all; not just the sea of faces, smiles, and handshakes here in this room – but the friends who wish me well, the little letters and emails and text messages, those who write me and ask for advice or who thank me or who call on me for some reason or another. I used to be able to grasp them all but there are too many. So I get to settle for telling people Thank you, and trying to comfort and be kind, and to show my appreciation.

Home now, and I have a hot slice of deep dish pizza. We sit down. After my shower, I am still not feeling well. My husband holds my feet in his hand, paints my toenails; holds my hands and paints each fingernail too. I am still feeling ill. I lean up against him. He smells wonderful; like cedar and warmth. He has always smelled wonderful to me.

At midnight, the fireworks, more than I figured. I bump up the music: INXS’ “Need You Tonight”. I’m on the couch in my blanket and I watch Ralph and Nels don coats and go outside to watch the pyrotechnics; I lean back and feel that mixture of sadness and joy. I remember where I was the day we heard Michael Hutchence had died by suicide. I was at a house party and someone played a ballad and for a moment we were quiet, drinks in hand doing nothing to keep us from reflecting on yet another loss. 

And tonight, another year sober and another year deepening my practice. This year brought me more Buddhist practices; I am still astonished as I sink deeper into them. Tonight, my oldest child is sketching at the table, on a tablet. My youngest is in his underwear, gaming on the couch. He is only a few inches shorter than I, now.

This year life kept crashing along, despite everything.