The 2000s brought high school graduation, college graduation, my first “real” (salary) job, marriage to my best friend, and even my first child. Everything was going great. Right on schedule. Big things were happening and I was excited. December 31, 2006 was my first real glimpse at what it meant to dream BIG dreams – and I was hooked.
December 31, 2006 was the day Steve asked me to be his partner forever. I’ve never gone into a year like I did in 2007…so many hopes and dreams. Wide-eyed and in awe that a man like Steve would choose a girl like me. More, he thought he was the lucky one! I dreamed of the wedding we would have in 2007, the family we would make, the home we would create, a future with him by my side. There is no better way to start a new year than knowing you have so much to look forward to! Every New Years Day after that was a reminder of how much I was loved, how lucky I was, and a time for us to dream of more together.
Then…well, then the 2010s happened. I almost want to say “the end” right there.
The 2010s brought child number two into our lives and everything was still good. We both had jobs that we loved, hobbies, and good friends to enjoy it all with . Everything was on track.
Then, 2013 happened. We had some marriage challenges, but the coming together was pretty life changing in itself. It’s like we found our true rhythm in 2013. Then he died. All my dreams, hopes, and goals were gone in that same instant. I lost myself. Steve was as much a part of my identity as I was. We were two puzzle pieces that fit perfectly together in our differences. I didn’t want to go back to who I was before Steve – he had made me an exponentially better person, and I didn’t want to move forward without him. We were so much a part of each other I didn’t know if I could even do life without him. This was my rock bottom.
Like Anna sings in Frozen II, “You are lost, hope is gone. But you must go on and do the next right thing.” The one thing that got me through was a promise we made to each other to be happy and give our girls a good life. I didn’t know if I could do either on my own, but I was going to do everything in my power to give it everything I had. It was the last thing I could do for him.
A significant part of the 2010s are a blur. I literally picked myself up off the floor, tried to put whatever pieces I could find of “us” together into a new me knowing it would never, and could never be the same. I kept the little people alive and did the best I could to give them a happy life. We moved. Twice. Each time farther away from family that we love dearly. I traveled. A lot. I have loved seeing new cultures, trying new adventures, and finding joy in the world around us. Traveling gives me hope for the future and joy in the day – it gives me something to look forward to even if it is only a few months at a time. The 2010s also brought a “long-term” boyfriend which is something else I never thought I’d ever stand for in my life. So much for doing things the “right way” (I tried…and got it right, once!). We own a dream home together, enjoy the friendship we have, and have a solid relationship rooted in the present. Let’s just say there have been a lot of changes, learning, rebuilding, and adapting.
The 2010s included my lowest low, huge uncertainties and risk, but also some great highs with memories to treasure. I’d sum it up by saying this: I survived.
So, 2020…what could possibly be in store?
I know a few changes are coming this decade. By 2030 I will be an empty nester and my one final goal in life will be fulfilled – seeing our girls grow into young ladies. There may be a move (although we all hope not!). There will be new jobs. More travel, hopefully to some pretty amazing places starting with the Galapagos Islands in April.
One thing I hope for is to find my dreams again and have the courage to chase them. The 2010s paralyzed me with loss, then sapped all my strength just trying to keep everything together even if sometimes it was hanging by a thread. I went from knowing my place in this world and having big dreams well into the future to not being able to dream of the next year. There were glimmers of hope and new dreams, but eventually those seem to fade away too.
The new year celebration always brings a wave of sadness as I know I am moving into another year of so many unknowns and the contingency plans that make up a life on hold. I see my ring and remember the love that was given and shared on this same night so many years ago and I mourn the loss of the gift of a future. I miss the feeling of a new year, new dreams, new plans, and new beginnings. Tonight, New Years Eve, I will survive (again).
This will be my seventh New Year’s without Steve by my side and it is one of the hardest nights of the year for me. I’ve yet to be able to hold it together as midnight approaches – although I do the best I can to hide it. So, today, I will soak in the memories by myself, with the hope that I can step into 2020 determined to live a decade with dreams not only found, but achieved.
I may not be ready, but I’m thankful you are here. My word for you is determined and I am looking forward to all you have to offer this year. LETS DO THIS.
What is your word for 2020?