My mom and I woke up the kids five minutes before midnight. “Wake up, it’s time,” I said gently, trying to contain my excitement.
When I was a kid, New Year’s Eve was a big deal. It still is a huge night of celebration in Croatia, an important one. Or maybe it’s just a great excuse to have friends over, play music, dance, get all excited, and laugh and cry all at once. And the next day, start anew. (Although in Croatia, we first have a New Year’s Eve Reprise – complete with the countdown, the champagne, and a band . . . )
Blais sat next to me, ready to count down and watch the Ball Drop in New York City’s Times Square. We had been spending a few days at a friend’s condo in Florida . . . near the ocean. It felt good to be just us at the end of a very difficult year . . .
“10, 9, 8 . . . ” I jumped on my feet, as excited as a child. “7, 6, 5 . . . ” I glanced at my boys, who were much calmer than me. . . . “4, 3, 2, 1! HAPPY NEW YEAR!” I yelled. I hugged Blais and kissed his cheek, making my way to Evan, Dante and my mom – while Frank Sinatra sang “New York, New York.”
And then it hit me like a tidal wave . . . this deep sadness . . . a triggered memory of endings, of not wanting to say goodbye and let go. And a realization, that without endings, there could never be new beginnings. Without the night, there could never be a new dawn. “I’ll always love you, Matthew!” I thought, believing he could hear me.
I didn’t want to make the kids sad, seeing me cry. “It’s OK to cry, Mama.” Blais said, before I could turn my face away and let my tears flow out like a river after months of rain. In my heart, I saw the remnants of 2017 float away…
As we got really quiet, the voice of Andra Day filled the room: “I’ll rise up . . . Rise like the day . . . I’ll rise up . . . In spite of the ache,” and I let her song comfort me . . . (If you pay attention, there is ALWAYS the perfect song playing for you – whether it’s on the radio, your playlist, or through a bird outside your window.) “I’ll rise up . . . And I’ll do it a thousand times again . . . ”
The next morning, I woke up before the sun. I grabbed my journal and a blanket and sat on the balcony, ready to watch the First Sunrise of 2018. It was calm, beautiful and so pink – just like the morning when Matthew passed. And I felt tremendous peace and lightness of being. I felt energized and renewed.
I felt like one feels after they put down a heavy suitcase and decide that they don’t need its contents for the journey ahead.
And the storm that rolled in the next day (yes, even Florida got a taste of it) couldn’t bring me down.
Because I knew there could be no sunrise without a night, and no spring without a winter.
Have a blessed and happy New Year!