I thought we'd do some reflecting today. A looking back over the last year, you know? I was laying in bed last night - wide awake - running my hands over the months of the year. Wondering how we made it.
January: Craig and I take our annual NYE picture and we're in bed at 9:30. That weekend, Craig wins an award at work, and he looks ridiculously handsome in his suit and tie. He sends me a picture because I'm in the hospital randomly getting my appendix out. And surprise! It's full of "cancerous sludge". I drive to the Target in the closest town and don't remember how I got there. We wait for my body to heal in order to have a colonoscopy to rule out any other issues. My mom gets the worst case of pneumonia, which lasts through February. I spend the days with my jaw clenched.
My friends show up though. When I look back at January, I think about the notes in my mailbox at work, the kind eyes of the people that I shared my days and lunches with, and the constant support. How do you make it through without people like them?
February: My colonoscopy is clear. I exhale the biggest, deepest breath I never even realized I was holding.
The country is interested in what's going on in China.
Craig turns 45. He unwraps his gifts in my dining room. He presses his cold February nose into my neck and he smells a little bit like home.
March: I hire a one man band for my birthday, and my closest friends come together at the beginning of March. We dance to ridiculous songs, we drink too much, and we laugh. I am still exhaling from January and February. It feels good to sweat and to shake my shoulders. Some people couldn't come because of Covid. It was the first of my plans that were threatened.
Later that month: My school closes for two weeks after spring break. We spray down desks and stare at the students as they clean out their lockers.
Later that month: My beautiful cousin Heather passes away after a ten year fight with breast cancer. I sat on the couch and Craig held my shoulders as I cried. She was beautiful and smart and kind and we still haven't been able to have a funeral for her.
April: My house in Nebraska goes on the market. In a pandemic. I don't sign my teaching contract. I spend the weeks pulling paintings and pictures off of the wall. I drag my fingers over the kitchen table I knew I wouldn't be bringing with me. I take my time going up the creaky stairs. The reader can feel when a chapter is coming to a close if you do it correctly, and that's what this was - an ending.
Tuck and I took long, long walks. We took time to notice everything. Pinecones. Sticks. Leaves. New grass. Crocuses. I wasn't going to work every day, and he wasn't going to school, and I tried to feel the gratitude of the extra time with him every single day. He asks about his teacher. We occasionally trek to the school to grab things. He rides his scooter down the hall because it's just ... deserted.
Craig and I put an offer in on a house. It was the only one we looked at. I walked in and the owner told us that we would be in charge of the Halloween party on the cul-de-sac. We were in the foyer. I was ready to write him a check. I hadn't even seen the rest of the house, but I knew it was our home. Later, Craig looked at me and softly said, "I really like it, too."
May: My house sells. Our new offer is accepted. I pack. My mom and step-dad drive in from California. I say some ridiculously hard goodbyes. See you laters. I drive down my favorite street in my old town one last time and I stop in front of my favorite house.
The business that I had started with several really wonderful friends in 2019 had started to crumble. I was starting to lose those friends, and I didn't know what to do. At that moment, I just didn't have the ... capacity.
I accept a job offer that was so far out of left field that it can only be attributed to God. I laugh and call Craig and ask him what the damn chances are. A perfect job, a perfect house, and the very best man? He laughs on the other end - no doubt happy that I'll have gainful employment and a retirement account.
June: We move into our dream house on June first. The movers drop all of our stuff in less than three hours and I'm swimming in boxes. I make it a mission to get it all unpacked in two days, and then I slept for what feels like days. Craig came home from work the first day after my parents left - when it was just me and him and Tucker - I looked at him in wonder. How did we actually make it? And thank God we did.
Tuck turns seven and we don't have a birthday party for him. I wonder what else we will lose this year.
I cook dinner every night, and we sit around our gifted dining room table, and I realize that maybe dreams can come true. Craig sits to my right and Tuck sits to my left and maybe I don't need another single damn thing.
July: I cancelled a trip to Houston to see my dad. We were supposed to go on a family cruise over the Fourth of July, but that was cancelled. I was going to use that time to go visit him instead. I laid in bed and cried and Craig hugged my shoulders. "I miss my dad," I whispered in his shoulder.
I drive to the Field of Dreams one cloudy day. It feels weird to live in a different state, but also ... kind of right?
August: August was just ... a dream, you guys. A damn dream. My family came to our new house and we had a tent in our backyard and we all laughed and played music. And my Uncle Rodney married us in front of the very best audience and Tucker even let me put gel in his hair. My brother carried around Craig's sister's baby, and my nieces and nephew and my little brothers - it was just so right. We toasted Heather and the other people who couldn't be with us, and it felt so good to hug my people. My people. The people that have seen me change, and let me change, and who have given me space and breadth to grow. My people. I cry still when I think about how people showed up for us. [Aside: I cry at *everything*.]
(And I started my new job.)
Tuck starts collecting rocks at school. He brings them home because he thinks I'll love them, and he's right. We start a collection jar.
September: Craig and I talk about the budget for the first time and neither one of us die.
I cry (again) about Craig's socks everywhere and dishes and laundry and four bathrooms and four bedrooms and wood floors and Craig pats my shoulder and lets me freak out. We decide he's going to do his own laundry from then on, but mostly - we know it had nothing to do with household chores at all. Sometimes it's all already too much, and a dirty pair of socks feels like the straw that breaks the camel's back. Navigating the new - even if it's everything you've ever wanted - is still a dance.
I lose another friend. I stare in the mirror. I text my best friend. The one that's hung on to me since I was 15. "Am I a bad friend?" I ask, knowing that she's more honest than almost anyone else I know. "No," she answers. "Absent sometimes, but not a bad friend." I take a deep breath. Absent sometimes. Yes.
She continues, "This will be the year that everything else falls away, B. You'll come out of this knowing who was strong enough to stick with you." And she's right ... mostly like always.
I decide to end The Bravely You Project at the end of November. One Saturday morning in late September, I cry over it's failure. More than that, I cry over the decimated relationships that came in its wake.
Tuck plays football. I grip my chair and grit my teeth at every game and practice. Craig sits next to me in the grass at every game - smiling. We'll have years of this sweet perfect together.
October: I show Craig the Christmas budget and he doesn't divorce me.
Aunt Gwen dies. My Papa stands behind a podium and delivers a moving eulogy that leaves me quietly weeping. His Parkinson's has his hips and knees and head shaking. But his message - his message is just so clear and perfect. I brush my hand across my Uncle Al who is sitting in front of me. Craig wraps his warm around my shoulders. What do we do when all of our legends are gone?
We finally visit my dad in Texas. The weekend feels like the biggest exhale.
I take Tucker to trick-or-treat in my old town with my ex-husband. Slowly, we walk from house to house. Tuck holds both of our hands, and I swing his heavy bucket in my other. He takes running jumps and swings between us, before running up to another house by himself. I look from him to his dad in wonder. We are raising the most beautiful light, you know? Tucker has rescued me more times than I can count. I realize again, in the driveway of my favorite house in that town, that he's the best thing I ever did.
I see an old friend drive past us that night. I wonder about her. I wonder about the chapters that close without warning.
November: Craig brings home some kind of something from work, and the three of us are sick for days. We stay home for Thanksgiving, and I make everything that all of our moms would make. We have too much food and I can't eat any of it. The gravy tastes like salt and we watch movie after movie after movie. Neither of us move.
My school goes virtual for weeks. I teach on the barstools at my counter. My Christmas tree is lit up behind me. I miss my kids.
Our rock collection jar from Tucker's playground is filling up.
Craig put up giant colored lights on the house even though he hates heights - because love. I tried a bob and a middle part for a hot second.
December: We go back to school. I've never been more happy to see ninth graders.
Mom and my step-dad decide they aren't coming for Christmas and I'm devastated. I make my grandma's Christmas cookies and cry because they don't taste the same. I miss the normal of the holiday season.
Dad and his fam get Covid. I get the stomach flu. Uncle Phil dies. My cousin Hilary - Heather's sister - is diagnosed with breast cancer. Craig blows the Christmas budget out of the water when he buys me an elliptical (and he's still alive).
At night, I read books about the solar system to Tucker. There's one about the moon, and his tiny hands move over the large pages. I whisper to him about his uncle and his papa being rocket scientists. I whisper to him ad astra. He tells me he's going to the moon one day, and I tell him he can do whatever wild dream he has beating in his heart.
Me when I was seven and sitting on my dad's lap: "You can do whatever you want to do, Sis." "You can be whatever you want when you grow up, Sissy."
On Christmas Eve, the three of us - Tuck and Craig and me - all sit next to a fire in the fireplace and we open gifts, and it's one of the most precious things. Craig buys me the best writing pens and puts Tucker's name on the tag. My mom buys me a water color painting of our new house and I hang it in the living room. Tucker opens a snowboard and Sonic activity books. Craig sits on the couch with a look of constant bemusement. I wonder about him sometimes - the man that never wanted to marry again or have children, suddenly surrounded by endless amounts of wrapping paper, a messy wife, and a brilliant kid.
On Christmas Day, I'm standing in the church basement at Craig's family Christmas. My sweet boy is glued to my leg, too shy to play with the other kids. "I'm sticking to you, mommy." I hug his back and then I dump some cheese onto a plate. "Like the moon," he half whispers.
I lean down to him. "What?" I ask.
"Like the moon sticks to the Earth. I'm sticking with you."
I blink back tears. Ad astra.
For every bad thing, there were ten good things. I've forgotten so many things between last January 1st and this December 31st. But my heart - my heart is still so full.
Awhile ago, Craig sat across from me at dinner with his hands animated. "Some people will say this is the worst year of their lives, but not me. I've had a great year. I married a great girl, I have Tucker, we bought a house, and I love my job."
And I think my word for 2021 is going to be light.
We always have a choice you know? The choice of what to spend our energy on, or who.
We always, always, always have a choice to look at the bright side. To look for the good. To seek out the light.
That's my goal for 2021. To look for the light.
Love you, mean it.
. About Moi .
I love, love, love flannel sheets and I am really passionate about lists on post it notes and most of the time I'm sad that no one else is as excited as I am about Diet Mountain Dew. I also adore run-on sentences. And if you need an awesome virtual assistant, who is full of personality and really good jokes? Email me. I'm your girl.
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He saw her before he saw
anything else in the room.
- F. Scott Fitzgerald
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