Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Of auld lang syne and those yet to come

It's New Year's Eve. Aside from hearing the dog stretch in the other room and the occasional thump in the attic from what I dearly hope is a squirrel (as opposed to a rat or, say, a jaguar), all is quiet. About two hours ago the kids quit pretending to be asleep and actually were, leaving me to morosely flip channels and consider whom I might call. My sister? My best friend?

The truth is, I miss my husband. He's only been gone a few hours, so it's not the missing of a long absence. It's the missing of my partner during a symbolic-if-silly evening. We should be sharing a glass of wine. And the bed. We should be talking about the time we heralded the New Year perched, kissing and laughing upon the wall surrounding Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin as bells pealed.

All this quietness has me thinking too much -- no wonder at a time when making lists, setting goals and pondering the past is de rigueur. So, why not?

1. Some things I'd like to do in 2009.

Get published in a national magazine.
Start a book.
Have more structure to my days.
Write letters on stationary.
Go on more bike rides with the kids.
Travel to Africa.
Build up muscle in my arms.
Get away, alone, with Roy at least three times.

2. Some things I'm grateful for.

That Christ loves me anyway.
That Roy is an incredibly thoughtful husband.
That our children are beautiful, hale and clever.
An extra refrigerator in the garage.
That, though things are tight, our needs are more than being met.
That I have amazing friends. I can't believe how many people I have in my life who nurture my spirit.
Music. Art. Books.
Belly laughs.
Parents who love their children and each other and never, ever hesitate to say so. And show so.
A brother and sister I call friends.
Being able to reach the bowls on the top shelf without a stool.
A dynamic, loving church that truly seeks to help people.
A good bottle of wine and interesting people with which to share it.
Good health.
In-laws I love.
A passionate marriage.

3. The best things about 2008.

Two trips to Guatemala to love on kids who desperately need to be loved.
Watching Madeline and Connor grow stronger in mind and body.
Enjoying a carefree, sun-soaked summer.
Having another year with Roy.

4. Something I'd change if I could.

I think people who say they have no regrets are either lying to themselves or possessing of very poor memories. There are several things I'd change if I could. Very near the top of that list is a dance I declined nearly 20 years ago. It's been on my mind the last few days.

It was my senior year of high school. Prom. Halfway thru the evening or more, Eric Coker, having clearly mustered up his courage, asked me to dance. Eric may have had a friend, but, if he did, I can't recall who that person was. Though not everyone was cruel to him, plenty were. For my part, not being actively unkind to him didn't translate as kindness.

That night, he came to me and asked me to dance. I'm not sure how long I considered his invitation before I said thank you for asking, but I don't care to dance. It was however long it took to calculate the potential cost I would have to pay in social currency versus the clear need Eric had of just being accepted.

I knew immediately I had taken the coward's way out, and I was ashamed. Very little time passed before I went to find him, to tell him I'd made a mistake and would be honored to dance with him. But he was nowhere to be found.

Ten years later, Eric came to our high school reunion, and I had him sit at our table. He seemed to have a good time. He danced during a few fast songs. He smiled. He said he'd found a group of like-minded individuals in an academic setting that suited him.

A few weeks later, unable to swim, Eric took his life by walking off the end of a pier. He never did find a place in the world.

This coming year, as in past, I hope very much to say yes, whenever possible, to the Eric Cokers of the world. I've been given much, and much is expected.