Monday, December 31, 2012

The 525,600 minutes of 2012: A season of love, loss and family history

'Seasons of Love', from the broadway play 'Rent', is one of my favourite songs, and as I began to reflect on the passages of the last year, this beautiful song was playing in my mind.  The year 2012 is not one I would care to repeat for so many reasons; however, within the 525, 600 minutes of this particular year, in addition to the darkness which fell upon us, there was also light. There were positive lessons learned, and insights about love within a family, and loss, as well as about family history, and the importance of celebrating all of the 'seasons' of life.

In part, the lyrics of the song 'Seasons of Love' read,

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
Five hundred twenty-five thousand journeys to plan
Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure the life of a woman or a man?

In truths that she learned
Or in times that he cried
In bridges he burned
Or the way that she died

It's time now, to sing out
Though the story never ends
Let's celebrate
Remember a year in the life of friends


The first time I saw the play Rent was in 2001, in New York City, just nineteen days after the terrible day on which the planes struck the twin towers.  We were in the old Nederlander Theatre down on West 41st Street — with almost a full house — and everyone in the audience and on stage seemed to be filled with the desire to embrace life.  During the encore all those in the audience were on their feet.  Through tears, and singing as loudly as we could, audience and cast were joined in unison belting out the song.  It was a life affirming moment I will never forget.  It taught me that no matter how dark life gets, it must be celebrated by those of us who remain.

So... as I thought about this past year, I realized it is possible to remember the bright moments which came along with the very dark.

Although January of 2012 ended with a diagnosis of terminal cancer for our beloved dog Sarah, we had her with us for nine weeks after her diagnosis.  It gave us the time to truly appreciate Sarah and care for her in her last days, recognizing the light she brought into our lives. We had just over five years with our girl, and during that time she brought us more joy than we might have had if we'd been given five and twenty years, instead of just five.  Losing Sarah in April made me realize how precious are all the creatures of this earth, no matter how great or small, and made me truly grateful that we have her little brother Ulee who is a bright spark of joy in our lives each and every day.

Springtime was further darkened by the loss of my mom, but there was light in the fact that we were able to let Mom know what she meant to us just before she died in May.  In the hours before my mom fell into the deep sleep that is death, I leaned down, embraced my mother, looked into her eyes and said, 'I love you Mom', and my mom responded in kind.  Mine was not the type of family in which we often said such things to one another. When I was growing up, parents and children had their roles to play, and you just got on with it.  When my mom was dying it was as though I finally 'got it', unlike when I lost my dad.

I did not properly say goodbye to my dad because I think a part of me did not believe he would actually die, so I was more concerned about making sure his oxygen mask was on properly, and the butterfly bandages which delivered morphine stayed in place.  The madness of those last moments, before Dad fell into his quiet sleep, leave a heartbreak which will never heal, but when my mom closed her eyes for the very last time, I was caressing her forehead and stroking her arm, telling her she was truly loved.

This year, in addition to looking inside libraries and archives for the history of my family, I looked outside, watched real life unfold, and wrote about what I observed.  In the summertime I saw something in my older brother Mike which I had never before recognized, and I learned many life lessons from him, and the way in which he dealt with the death of his closest friend, Charlie.

One day in June brought with it a lovely surprise when this blog was named as one of Family Tree Magazine's Top 40 International Blogs. That very morning over coffee I had been telling my husband that I desperately needed something good to happen, anything good, and then it did.

September brought me back to Ireland again, but it felt so different this time. My observations were made with eyes that were opened wide. I watched faces and looked at places as though I had never before seen them, and would never again set eyes on them. Less time was spent in graveyards, and more time in the company of family. The flood gate holding back previously unasked questions burst open wide, and I allowed myself to be like an inquisitive seven year old who never stops asking why.

There have been far too many emotional bumps along the way this year, but we are still here, blessed with life and love, and a passion for living which beats so very strong within our hearts.  So too, gratitude is here.  Like an umbrella over all of life's blessings is the gratitude I feel for my own place in this world, and the thankfulness I feel toward each one of you for allowing me to share my journey with you. Thank You!

As we look forward to the new year, I wish for each one of you much love in your life and many blessings along the way, including many family history finds. May this world delight you each time you open your eyes to it, and may you always find some light within any darkness you might face.

It's time now, to sing out
Though the story never ends
Let's celebrate...


Copyright©irisheyesjg2012.

14 comments:

  1. Jennifer you are truly one of my blogging heroes and this post so clearly shows why. Thank you for your honest appraisal of what has plainly been a difficult year for you. I hope that 2013 is kind to you with much happiness. I'm off to find that song.

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    Replies
    1. Dear Pauleen,

      Thank you so much for your lovely comments. As always, I really appreciate receiving them. You inspired me to write this post by writing your post about looking at the positive things that happened to you in 2012. Once I began to think about the positive and this year, there was that song looping in my head and out came this post. So, Thank You!

      I wish you and your family all the best in 2013!

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

      Delete
  2. Jennifer,
    I hung on to every word of this post. It is beautiful and not only a tribute to those you love, but also a tribute to you. I look forward to reading you in 2013 and feel privileged to follow your blog.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Kathy,

      Thank you so much for your lovely and very kind words. I very much appreciate receiving them.

      I wish all the very best for you and your family in the coming year!

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

      Delete
  3. Beautiful Jennifer, may 2012 bring us only good things!!!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Lorraine! The new year will bring us only good things; it definitely will.

      Cheers,
      Jenn

      Delete
  4. Jenn, I'm with everyone else saying this is beautiful. I look forward to more in 2013, Have a great new years.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Charlotte,

      Thank you for your comments; as always, they are much appreciated.

      All the best to you and your family for the new year!

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

      Delete
  5. Up until the very end, this year has been a "bumpy" one for me, too, so it was encouraging to read your closing words, Jennifer! May 2013 bring you all the antidotes to the prior year that you need--and much, much more!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Jacqi,

      Thank you for your comments. As always, they are much appreciated. Let's hope for the very best for all of us in the year ahead. I wish you much joy and all the best to you and yours.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

      Delete
  6. Some years are indeed bumpy, and it is truly wonderful that we move forward with grace. Jennifer, I always appreciate your sensitive thoughtful writings - a true pleasure. Have a wonderful year in 2013.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Celia,

      Thank you for your comments the whole year through. They are always much appreciated. Perfect advice: 'move forward with grace'.

      Cheers to you, and all the best for you and your family in 2013.

      Jennifer

      Delete
  7. Thanks for this touching and heartfelt post, Jennifer. I hope the new year brings many wonderful moments for you and your family!

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    Replies
    1. Hi Shelley,

      Thanks very much for your comments, and your good wishes. They are always much appreciated.

      May 2013 bring all good things to you and your family.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

      Delete

Comments on this blog are always deeply appreciated; however, in the spirit of true collegiality, I ask that you do not write something you would not say to me in person.

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Cheers, Jennifer

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