It’s 10:55pm, December 31, 2015. As I await the New Year’s arrival, I am reminded of something I wrote 6 years ago. Wanted to share it with you:
December 31st has become for me, perhaps because I am in early afternoon of life (around 2:16pm according to current statistics), no longer a time for celebration but a time of sadness and withdrawal; a time when I want to shut the office door and listen to music with headphones so that the sounds of visiting family and everyday life are drowned out; a time of funerary grief to be experienced while all those around me are making merry and doing whatever they can to avoid that very same experience. But for what am I grieving? There is nothing specific on which I can put a finger or at which I can shake a stick that accounts for my feelings – no rueing of things done or not done or left undone; no remorse for failed New Year’s Resolutions, as I tend to avoid making them in the first place. The strongest aspect of my grieving is an aloneness, but it is an aloneness with which I find myself becoming more and more comfortable as the seconds tick by and about which I tend to joke with others though few of them take it with the seriousness it deserves, and yet, it is aloneness, nonetheless, and so is, as if by definition, a lonely feeling which is only heightened by the jovial group of family and friends amid a crowd of cheerfully shouting strangers as we await the ringing in of the new year. The loneliness peaks at 12:01am as I glance at my phone to see no emails, no text messages, no missed calls, no voice mails bearing “Happy New Year!!” while around me all are toasting and tasting and kissing. Of course, I am not sending out any texts or emails nor making any calls but that is not the, perhaps rationalized, point which is, in fact, the fact that, regardless of how I perceive all the people whose names and contact info are entered into my address book, not one of them perceives me as worthy, in whatever sense one would measure worthiness for inclusion in such a broadcast, of stopping at my entry as they scroll down from A to Z adding 10 Joe’s and 20 Jane’s and 30 John’s to the To: field of a message which, they hope, will be the first to arrive after 11:59:59pm and so will be the first of many New Year’s greetings and, therefore, in some ultimately inconsequential way, the most important. So, I am surrounded by people both close and far and yet, in a sense, alone and experiencing the loneliness but that is not, at the heart of it, the cause of my grief but most likely a co-symptom. Yes, the grief and loneliness I feel evoke the ambiance of a funeral because they are, in all respects, also engendered by death. All around outside there is death from the brown, frosted ground to the leafless trees to the cold, gray skies to the short days whose sure and steady lengthening is still too subtle to be noticed. But more poignant for me is what is and what is not dying within for this journey on which I have embarked, or rather on which I was forced, being abducted from my bed in the middle of the night and in the middle of dreaming, is one of embracing multiple deaths rather than one of eschewing all death, especially one’s own. Some things are as black and white as Jesus’ statement, “You are either for me or against me,” for something must die as surely as something must be born and if a tiny bit of the ego part of “I” does not die then a little bit of the imago Dei part of “I” must cross the river, travel out of reach; a little bit more of my Self unavailable, inaccessible, that is to say, for all intents and purposes, dead. So, the grief I feel on this auspicious and, yet, at the same time inauspicious night is the inevitable mourning the loss of those parts of me I knew so well and those parts of me I never knew at all and, now, never shall.