we are all alone together

hand, with short nails, stained with dye

Oh, 2013. You, you, you.

We really had no idea.

Let’s just get it out of the way: 2013, I’m glad to be nearly clear of you. I had high hopes, with a number like 2013- it seemed auspicious in that funnily backwards way, and I really thought it would work out for us. You’re a nasty, tricky piece of work.

There was the travel, ceaseless. Work, of course. My mother- in- law’s cancer diagnosis, oh god. Kiddo going to college- such a good thing, but an enormous transition for all of us, and hard. Family, mine, and oh, if it started out rough it only got harder; that post in April only brushes on how bad things really became. (Side note: never talk about family business on the internet, even if it’s 20- year- old family business; it’ll get you solidly uninvited to weddings. WINNING. At least I know where things stand? Actually winning this time, though, albeit in a very sad way.) There was the MS relapse, which led to the meds change in the summer, which is gong really well (winning!) but was more physically exhausting than I ever could have anticipated. Learning that they might have found something in Sam’s autumn MRI, which turned out to be fine in the end but resulted in a seemingly endless stretch of I will not think about this right now, because if I do, I will just start screaming and I don’t know if I will be able to stop. And then there were the external tragedies, which aren’t mine to address but belong instead to friends; the griefs we have seen around the people we love.

It’s been a brutal year, for us and for the people close to us. I find it amazing that back in the spring I thought we might be standing at the outer barrier of how much hurt and stress a human heart could hold at a single time; that seems so ridiculous now. It’s been helpful, too, though. Through all of this, there has been an ongoing exchange of kindness in our lives that has been so amazing and for which we are so grateful. I have always had a very hard time asking for help, and while I can’t say 2013 broke down that barrier forever, it certainly made some inroads.

So. 2013, you’ve taught me how to ask for help, some. And I’ve learned more about simplifying, obviously, because when you’ve got too much going on you’ve got to cut the chaff. I’ve learned who will be there, and who will be honest with me. I’ve learned how much I can actually do under immense pressure, as a civilian. (It’s a totally different world, trust.) I’ve learned what happens when I really push myself, traveling. (About two, possibly three less trunk shows next year- or less interpersonal stress. I can control the scheduling of trunk shows, at least, even if I can’t see every bump in my life coming.)

I’ve been looking back over the last year- how awful it’s been, how hard all three of us have worked, how goddamned gutting the entire go of it was- and while I’d never want to do it again, I’m so glad to have it behind us, I still don’t want to toss the damned thing out. I have this general feeling of “Good riddance, 2013,” and I do mean that- good riddance to all of that negativity, to throwing myself at closed doors, to wasted energy, to sadness and grief and exhaustion and all of it- but I’m also so grateful for the way this has brought people together, opened us up, and moved us.

I just wish things were easier lately. If not for us- I don’t expect an easy go right now, Sam’s mother is sick, and this is a part of living- at least for the people around us. It is just this strange moment for us, and I get that. Everyone around us seems to have such immense sadnesses in their lives, though- real moments of tragedy. Fires, death, addiction, break- ups, divorce. It is both heartbreaking (we love them!) and a really, strangely beautiful time— so many of the people we love are being so kind and careful and generous to each other lately. We all have so little of ourselves to give, so we give to the people closest to us, and we are cautious with one another, gentle, sweeter than usual, careful to communicate. It is beautiful, in a painful sort of way. People are remarkable. I love watching how we are, together. And so I’m grateful to 2013 for that, too- for the chance to see, again, how beautiful we are, even in sadness, even in grief, even in pain. We pull together. We lean in. We do the work. We love one another. We heal. We grow. We learn. We just keep our shoulder to that goddamned wheel and do the work.

Here’s to 2014: may it be better to all of us than 2013, whether is was a banner year for you or not. We can do this, hand in hand, as a community. We are all alone together.

  One thought on “we are all alone together

  1. December 31, 2013 at 3:36 pm

    Seems like 2013 was quite a year for many people. My mom was just diagnosed with breast cancer, too. It’s scary but I agree, it’s wonderful to watch how people pull together. Hugs and good thoughts for the upcoming year!

  2. December 31, 2013 at 6:16 pm

    After reading your post, I too am grateful that 2013 will be behind you! For me it was 1999 and I believe that for all of us, if not now, sometime in the future we will all look back at a particular year and say, “good riddance” and also, “how did we make it through that one?”
    Amazingly, there are lessons within our lowest lows, and gifts of grief – LIFE is good, despite a horrific year! Blessings to you and yours in 2014.

  3. January 1, 2014 at 11:46 am

    I’m with you- let’s hope 2014 improves even as it brings its own challenges!

  4. Missy Wheeler
    January 1, 2014 at 12:52 pm

    I’m sendng happiness and love your way. May 2014 be filled with peace amd joy.

  5. Brandi
    January 2, 2014 at 4:36 pm

    I love your writing its beautiful. I agree I am done with all the crap 2013 dished out but grateful for the inner strength, friendships, and patience I have achieved and hope to work on futher in 2014. I pray that this coming year is better for all of us.

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