It has been an….interesting year.
A few deaths, a great many friends, a wedding, a wedding announcement, challenges, job losses, job threats, wins, losses. And through it all, you. All of you. And I am grateful for that.
I started thinking about writing this wrap up, but then I realised I don’t really have that much to say. It’s been an eventful year, as I said, but I am actually struggling to remember much of it.
The publication of this blog post goes out on Twitter, so I need to say that I am very grateful to every single one of you. You have all shaped my life in some way. Over the course of the year, I’ve had more interaction with some of you than others, so if you are not explicitly mentioned here, it isn’t a sign of whether you are important to me or not, just an indication of my powers of recollection.
Probably the major event of the year was the day my mother died, which just happened to be the same day my wife’s cousin died unexpectedly. Larry’s death came as a great shock to everyone, but Mum’s…well, let’s just say it wasn’t a surprise, and nor was it a particularly sad event. Not for me anyway. Sound harsh? Well, keep reading, dear friend, and you will see what I mean.
My mum had been sick for a while. There is a whole story to it. And when she died, it was a release for her. She had a brief bout of pneumonia before it claimed her. It wasn’t exactly unexpected. And she’d been wanting to die for many years. She finally got her wish. It was tough on my darling niece who lost her other grandmother earlier in the year. But she is one tough young woman.
On the same day, we got news that my wife’s cousin died suddenly. A fit, relatively young man. Obviously we couldn’t make it to the tangi because we had stuff to deal with here. But I was very impressed that my wife’s aunt went to both. She attended the tangi, and then flew back to Wellington on the day of my mum’s funeral to pay her respects. Partly because of the connection through me, partly because she works with my brother, partly because it is just a truly wonderful thing to do.
The happy event of the year really has to be the wedding of Maria-Jane and Josh. Two people very dear to my heart. Two wonderful people who are so good together. Two people who have brought great joy to our lives. It was funny when, as we arrived at the wedding, there was an older woman also arriving and I knew she was MJ’s grandmother because I recognised her from Facebook.
One of the stand-out public/political events of the year has to be the passing of the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Act allowing same-sex couples to marry. One of those rare events when large parts of the country were glued to television sets to watch a Parliamentary debate. I cried and hugged my wife tightly when the results were announced. It was one of the truly great, landmark events for this country. And to make things all the sweeter, a dear friend of ours announced she was going to marry her civil union partner early in 2014. It is events like this that make me proud to be a kiwi, to be alive to witness such events.
Once again it has been a year of Twitter. I have so many dear friends, most of whom I have never met. Probably never will. But it hasn’t changed the impact they have had on my life, or my impact on theirs. I have been truly honoured and humbled by many of the comments made to me about how I have changed people. How I have helped them see things in a more positive light. Helped them to see their own beauty and strength.
And through this, it has reinforced a few key concepts for me:
The times when we feel your strength and light have deserted you, they haven’t. That light, that strength, that love – it is still there, plainly visible to those of us capable of seeing it. The fact it is hidden from your view doesn’t make them any less real. In time, all the rubbish covering them will clear, and you will see it once again (maybe even for the first time).
We are never alone, no matter how much we might think we are. For all the vile nastiness prevalent on social media, there is also love and support. All you have to do is reach out, and one of us will be there to take your hand.
Everything we do, every word uttered, every action taken, it has an impact. The mountain of hate we face may seem unassailable. But with every kind gesture, every expression of love and compassion and empathy, it chips away at that mountain. It was created through billions of grains of hate. So will it be taken down, with billions of acts of love. Sometimes, it all starts with one person, one smile, four words.
I think this year has seen those values really become cemented into my core way of being. And that is because of every single one of you, dear friends.
When my wife’s barbershop chorus won the national championships this year, we found that in 2014 we get the chance to compete in the international champs, this time in Baltimore, Maryland. Which just happens to be (relatively) close to two dear online friends, @mamasnark and @agramonte. If we do make it there, nothing can stop us meeting up. And I was stunned when another online friend of mine suggested she might fly over to meet us as well. From Washington state. The other side of the bloody country. Whether any of this actually happens or not, it has been reflective of the connections made.
I qualify this because earlier this year my wife was made redundant. After a whole heap of nastiness from this bloody government of ours, the organisation she worked for tried to force her into a new role without consultation. She managed to get made redundant, but still, if she doesn’t get another job, we may not be able to afford to go. But her losing her job again reinforced a recurring lesson. There really is nothing that we can’t deal with.
The year ended with another death – that of my uncle, Nat. Sadly I couldn’t make it to his funeral in Rotorua as we were due to fly to Auckland a few days later. It is a bit of a landmark event because he was the last of my Mum’s immediate family. However, my niece put a lovely spin on it. For the first time in many years, my mum, her brother Nat, and her sister Dawne were able to spend Christmas together.
I cannot let this post be complete without mention of my young French friend who I have been trying to help find her path of light. It has been a difficult year for her, but we are making progress. It is really heart-warming to see someone start to heal the way she is (whether she realises it or not).
I wish I could say more about this year, but I really can’t remember much else. I hate forgetting things. But I do know this year has been another wonderful year spent with my beloved wife, it has been another year of Twitter, and a year of family (good and bad). You’ve all been a part of it. You’ve all made it richer, exciting, scary, loving and comforting. And for that, I thank you. A lot.
My resolution for 2014 is to write more. Previously I had heaps of inspiration but didn’t get around to writing, but this year it seems I had lost my inspiration. My drive to write. That’s going to change.