December is here, and I must admit that I have never before looked so forward to saying goodbye to a year. 2018 has been brutal. I will be happy to see it go.
2018 has been marked by grief, loss, disaster, and the lesson that sometimes things simply don’t go the way we hope. It has been the hardest year of my life, and I can feel that it has changed me deeply in ways I can’t even begin to put words to.
I’m writing this while sitting on the floor in a bare, unfurnished rent house. This certainly wasn’t in my plans for the year. When I last posted, our house in Ohio was under contract to sell, due to close any day, and we were picking out the finishes for our dream farmhouse here in Arkansas.
But as I said, things don’t always go the way we plan. Our buyer’s financing fell through and we had to let go of the beautiful farmhouse here. After bouncing around from the RV to my parents’ house to AirBNBs, we finally located a short term rental that will give us some time to figure out our next step.
Unfortunately, we still don’t have our furniture or household goods, because the agency that handled our move lost our belongings.
See what I mean about a year marked by disaster?
The most difficult loss of all though came on December 1, when we had to say goodbye to our beloved German Shepherd. In November he was diagnosed with Degenerative Myelopathy, a disease he most certainly had been struggling with for several months. The early stages went unnoticed due to a misdiagnosis in Ohio. He was already having mid-stage symptoms when he was finally properly diagnosed, and he progressed to late state very quickly. Watching him deteriorate was heartbreaking.
We were lucky enough to have him for seven years, but I wish it could have been twice that. He was loyal, brave, and good. He made me feel safe all the nights when Brandon was gone for work. He was my favorite hiking companion and a faithful friend to the end. I miss him more than I can say.
It has been a painful year.
December 21, the solstice, is coming. On our calendar, it marks the first day of winter. It’s the shortest, darkest day of the year, when the North Pole reaches its farthest tilt away from the sun, plunging into total darkness.
But it’s also a promise. Because immediately after the sun stands still and the pole stands in darkness, everything changes. We here in the Northern Hemisphere begin to tilt slowly back to the sun. The winter days may be cold and dreary, but each day brings us a little more sunlight. The nights grow shorter. The earth, at least here in our hemisphere, begins to warm.
It’s a promise that it won’t “always be winter and never Christmas.”
It’s a promise that soon we’ll be watching as the seeds we planted begin to sprout. We’ll be watching as the world turns green, and butterflies are born, and the Robins return again with their songs.
It’s a promise that Spring will come again.
So on December 21 I will celebrate the solstice, even as I keep waiting for Christmas. On the 25th, I will celebrate the great fulfillment of Advent. On December 31, I will celebrate saying goodbye to a year that has not been kind to us.
And even during these cold, dark days of Winter, I will remember that Spring is coming again.