I should perhaps leave this til the actual end of the year, as I would not put it past 2016 to throw a new spanner in the works. But I also feel this might take some time to write, so I’m starting it now, on Christmas Day, tucked up toe-to-toe on the couch with Pea.
This year Pea and I:
- moved back to Canuckia
- started new jobs
- lived long distance from each other for four months
- navigated getting a mortgage
- house-hunted and bought our first house
- bought our first car
- went through a FET cycle
- grew a small human to near-completion
This is, on its own, a pretty intense year. Pea and I have gone from being an immigrant, urban, apartment-dwelling, no-kids, no-car, no-debt couple to essentially the opposite in one calendar year. We are hugely lucky, that a professing job opened up in the Canuckian city with the largest Golden Company office. We are vastly privileged that we could afford all of these changes in so short a time frame, as our only debt is the mortgage at the moment. We are crazily fortunate to have Spud on the way. I take none of this for granted, and we are largely very pleased with this new life of ours, but it has been a significant transition.
This year brought with it some joyous times. The arrival of P., Turia and Q’s deeply charming daughter. Pea’s step-brother’s wedding, a choreographed feat of love and fun.
I look at this summary and know that, despite how big these events were, regardless of how many changes took place, 2016 will always be anchored in loss. My father’s accident and his loss of sensation and movement, his loss of autonomy over his body. We spent four months fighting to keep him with us, and have years of fighting for his independence, autonomy, and safety ahead. The loss of my step-father, both more sudden and more prolonged than expected. Both of these are griefs I have not fully absorbed yet. The traumas of this year have left deep marks on my family, marks that have yet to be fully resolved in our relationships, with each other and with our external support systems. We bear scars from this year, with new worry lines, an awful familiarity with hospital environments, anxieties that are no longer controlled, fears of unreasonable things that no longer seem unreasonable. I look at my family, and at myself, and see the footprints of weariness, weight loss, guilt, and grief. We are all healing, but slowly.
This year, I took one vacation day as vacation, to extend a long weekend visiting Pea’s family. I took all the rest to have time in hospitals, or time bearing witness to a decline. I took many more days than were allowed: a perk of my demanding new job, that I have great flexibility. I do not think this would be viewed as successful work/life balance. It wasn’t. It was life or death, and work came along for the ride. I am still covered in guilt that I could not do more, be there more, ease the awful burden that fell most heavily on others. Guilt and grief, bedfellows.
This year I needed unreasonable things from Pea. I needed him to unpack the house and take on all of the yard work for the year, so I did not lift heavy things or contact unknown garden dirt, to keep Spud safe. I needed him to spend his vacation days on fraught trips to my family, to be quiet support and witness to my sorrow. I needed him to let me leave, often, and for long stretches, despite our joy at the ending of our long distance stint, despite him being in a new city alone, and despite me taking our growing child with me each time. I needed him to care for me in ways I have never previously allowed. I needed him to worry about me, and about Spud. I did not, not once, have to ask Pea for any of this. He shouldered it willingly, offered it before I could ask, or insisted on it if I refused to ask. We are healing too, from the strain of this year, from the transitions we weathered. We’ve never once faltered or even wobbled, but I have needed Pea to take less precedence in my life than usual, and he has done so willingly. Now we find ourselves through the crises and reconnecting, right at the beginning of an entirely new phase of our relationship. I have never had more faith in us.
Next year this review will be radically different, in ways that are entirely unknown still. I am trying to be better with things beyond my control. I have great hopes for next year, and am ready for the new chapters starting.
I’m finishing this on the couch, toe to toe with Pea, many hours later, with the clock just ticked over to the 26th. Six more days of 2016, and I plan to spend many of them snuggled up here, on a new couch in a new home in a new city with a new life poised to emerge. Cheers to new beginnings.