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.
Cheese.
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.

-30-

14 comments:

Stacy B said...

Happy New Year, my friend! Thank you for writing again - I've missed reading you! Love you, Stacy B

Lisa said...

I always love reading your words and the way you write from the heart. I'm so grateful that we are friends. I count you and Roy as blessings in my life. May your 2009 be sweet, fragrant and overflowing with blessings.
Love you,
Lisa C.

Chappyswife said...

Toni, it is a time of reflection and list-making for me as well.

I do hope that you are able to meet your goals this new year, and I join you with thanking God for many blessings as well.

I am sorry about your schoolmate.

Roy said...

I miss you. I love you. I love the words that form in that lovely mind. Can't wait to see you.

r.

Robin said...

The last time you posted was Jan 30, 2008. It's still on my google reader. =)

Please post more.

And more often than once a year. No pressure.

Great post btw.

Penny Snider said...

Thank you for sharing, Toni. Your post reminded me to take breath and reflect a little on the coming of a new year.
Hope to see you soon,
Penny

Judith said...

All year, every now and then I've checked to see if you'd written. Tonight, I almost didn't, but then tried again.

I want you to know that I needed your telling me how much we need the Eric Cokers of the world, not only to give them hope, but to remind us of our humaness, and our Lord's divinity.

You have a way with words that God must have planned for you to share. Keep on writing.

Bev said...

The knife in the gut was completely unexpected. I expected, as I read along, a sweet little list, and my breath has been truly taken away by this. In the most blessed way possible. You never entertain me, rather you challenge me, convict me, move me - to be a better me. Man alive did this move me! My mom mentioned to me today that you'd written, and I'll be resubscribing just in case you write again in the next 11 months. It always is a tremendous blessing to me to see into your heart. I'm moving to Streetman sometime this year and would be beyond honored to meet you for a glass of wine. I'll buy.

Barb said...

This put a big lump in my throat, Toni. Half of the lump is knowing how you feel about Eric and the other half is knowing I did the same thing in my own past.

I'm beyond thrilled to hear from you again. You have such a way with words, there's no doubt in my mind you'll eventually be published.

I'm glad my sister will probably meet you first. That way, when I visit her in Texas, she can introduce you and me. :-)

Gretchen said...

Toni, I'm here via Bev's invitation. Wow. Your words are gentle, yet powerful. I hope you get to see your hubby soon. And...bless you for sharing your heart, both the goals and the reflections. Beautiful.

Sarah said...

Beautiful post, Toni, as always. "Always" in the sense that you make me wait a reallllly long time between posts, but they're always worth it!

Thank you for your sweet email. It turns out that I missed blogging before I ever really finished, and I came back. (I'm a flake, I admit it.)

And amen to cheese!

Becky said...

Wow! What an awesome post!
Thank you for that awesome reminder that much is expected of us. We are so blessed.

Kim said...

Your post blew me away. Let us know when you're published and we'll buy the magazine or the book or whatever! God has given you a gift, girl!

Toni said...

There are no words. I just feel heartbroken for Eric and for you too. God uses it though, all of it. I bet Eric would be deeply touched if he knew you extended compassion further than ever, all because of him.
Blessings,
~Toni~
p.s. we share a great name.