At the end of 2014, I wrote a blog post, a sort of confessional about the struggles with the high-functioning autism diagnosis that had characterized our family’s year. (I later took it down out of respect for our family’s privacy.) End of 2015 brought a new post, wherein I called that year “The Year of Healing and Dealing.” 2016 brought a new, even more gut-wrenching post, about our family’s journey in our differing religious practice, values, and beliefs. Last year, apparently, I wrote nothing. And this year I sit down and think back on my year, and wonder what it means. What will 2018 go down in history as “The Year Of”?
It’s tempting to containerize the messiness of life in a neat little bow. Maybe in the rewriting of history we will find artificial solace. But years are not modular pieces of lego that can be snapped together and pulled apart with fixed sizes and purposes. Qualifying years, months, and days are our human attempts to make sense of the bleeding of time, one messy encounter into another. But we try, because it helps us, a la Shonda Rhimes Year of Yes or AJ Jacobs’ hilarious The Year of Living Biblically. I wonder if either was really exactly a year.
Maybe 2018 should be my “Year of Marriage” in which my husband and I celebrated our 25th anniversary and shifted into a maturity in our relationship; a connection in which the vicissitudes of life bring us shared eyerolls and the sharing of souls via secret smiles across a crowded table or room; a growing-up of more facial lines, grey hairs, and added weight, along with a deeper soul-connection and partnership than either of us thought possible. And along with that, a recognition of what a rare and great blessing this is.
Or maybe 2018 will become known as my “Year of Miracles,” in which my family, after years of pumping mega-doses of love into each one of our precious children, saw incredible strides and beautiful milestones reached – ones that we’d never thought possible. Maybe the subplot here should be the power of prayer, the year in which we saw prayers answered – prayers that we thought so divorced from reality as to be considered, indeed, asking for a miracle. And along with that, a recognition of our limited view, as frail and myopic humans; a humble yielding of results to a power far greater than we. Perhaps then 2018 shall be known as my “Year of True Faith.”
“The Year of Travel” might be a more pragmatic term for my year, with lots of public speaking opportunities in Orlando, Philadelphia, San Diego (I brought my son along), South Bend, Dallas, Jacksonville, Israel twice, and Atlanta. I also hung out in Vermont with my daughter and New Jersey with my family. From a professional development perspective, and from a family bonding perspective, I’m going to say it’s been a solid year with a strong finish.
So maybe then the bigger package here, the bow to tie it all up in, is gratitude. There is a Jewish prayer called “Nishmat” in which we thank G-d profusely and poetically for all His many blessings, both personal and national. I’ve said this prayer more times this year than any other year. The gratitude is for the marriage. It’s for the miracles. It’s for the answered prayers. It’s for the renewed urge to pray. It’s for the trips to teach, reach, connect, and bond. It’s for the autism, the healing, the dealing, the journeys, the years in which I had nothing significant to say. It’s for 2018. It’s for me. It’s my “Year of Gratitude.” Happy New Year.