When my husband and I renewed our vows in 2007, we’d been together for 10 years. He waited until the last minute to write his vows to me and he stole the show to say the least and brought tears to my eyes. In them, he promised something that still sticks with me to this day and it was to continue hand in hand with me on the roller coaster that is our life together. I held on to his words every day last year in what was the most difficult one for our family. Our pain and struggle came in the form desperately trying to save our son who was struggling for his independence while living with autism and going through puberty. Suffice it to say, when things are not right with a family member every aspect of everyone’s lives is affected and it seemed like there was a dark cloud hovering over our heads.
Though the roller coaster of 2014 was the harshest and most stomach churning of all our years since the children were born, I can speak on behalf of my husband and sons and say that it was also one of the most enriching and rewarding because it is in hard times that we see who we really are and who to call acquaintance and who we can truly call friend and who need not accompany us into the new year. 2014 reminded me that love is the only answer, ingredient, magic trick, drug, tool or whatever you want to call it that can truly change anything. Love turns darkness into light. Though I have always been surrounded by love, it is only as I have gotten older and more in tune with who I am and who I will eventually settle to be, that I know how to truly love. And by that I mean love all people and how to find love in different situations and places. Love can save a child, can save a marriage, a life or many lives. It can put food on a table, toys in the hands of a child, wrap a warm blanket around a homeless person or simply a smile on someone’s face. I was fortunate to be surrounded by love and a lot of it came to me via virtual strangers whose kindness have made them part of my family.
I have always made a point of giving. Giving in ways that matter. Giving subtly and because my family was so fortunate to have received so much love this year, it encouraged me to seek it out more. My husband and I found ourselves looking at documentaries about people who changed communities by simple acts of love. I found myself smiling even on the hardest days, knowing that we were still better off than so many around the world. I found myself listening more, caring more and I was inspired to be less angry, less sorry for myself and my family’s situation and forge into 2015 with hope.
2014 also taught me that to move forward with love, you have to choose how best to spend your time and with whom. Moving forward with love also means cutting off the sticky, clinging arms of those who hold you back. You know, those whom you like well enough but there is an underlying quality of their nature that is corrosive and it doesn’t do anything positive for anyone? Yeah, those people. The ones you are polite to, tolerate as you listen to their incessant whining about something so frivolous you don’t understand how evolution hasn’t made them extinct by now. The person so absorbed in their own destructive behavior that they have no clue that they are dragging down the ones who love them the most. Yeah, that person. The rather rude person who needs to be seen talking to the right person in the crowd and if that happens to be you, you can set your watch to the exact time when they walk off and head to someone they deem more popular than you, in spite of the fact you’re in mid-conversation with them. Particularly amazed by that particular breed of human. Then there is the friend who commends you for being the rock they needed in their time of struggle but doesn’t have the decency to ask how you’re doing or make a concerted effort to spend time with you as you do your best to get through each day. That person is from the always baffling, self- absorbed centre of the universe club. But in my quest to embrace more love, I have not come to bear any malice towards these people. I truly do love them. Love them enough to forgive them for not being smart enough, or kind enough, or sensitive enough to others. Love them enough to let them go. And while I am happy to forgive them I won’t forget not one precious second of my time be wasted on them because it will deprive others of what I have to give.
2014 showed me how much my mother and my sister, my cousins, aunts and uncles, father-in-law and SJC sisters love me and my family. It showed me just how much my sisters-in-law and brothers-in law, try their best to be a part of our lives even though they are so far away. I feel the love of my dear friends J, F and L across the miles and it keeps me strong and it was because of these people and a few used-to-be-strangers that my family and I were able to stay afloat on a wave of love that took us right to the end of 2014 and washed us safely onto the shores of 2015. We’ve gotten to our feet, we’ve breathed in the fresh air and we are filled with courage but most of all we are filled with love – love that we want to give. I wish you all a 2015 of love. Love to give. Love to receive. Love that will set us free. Love that can change our families,communities and just maybe, change the world.