Saturday, December 31, 2016

Say Goodbye to 2016

Many are more than ready to. With gasoline and a match, I presume.  For lots of folks, 2016 was a relentlessly unpleasant year, much of it riddled with death.  We all know about the plethora of celebrities who shook off their mortal coils, musicians from David Bowie to George Michael and actors from Alan Rickman all the way to Carrie Fisher and her mother Debbie Reynolds (a day apart?!).  Sometimes it feels foolish to get so emotional over people I've never met.  Never kibbitzed over a coffee.  Never even saw from afar.   Yet, I have met them in many ways, connecting with their art.  A two way conversation you could say - their output and my appreciation.  It becomes part of who you are.  Maybe a reciprocal thing? Steely Dan's Walter Becker is quoted as saying that he would have a greater connection when a fan listens to one of his records alone in a room somewhere, instead of meeting that person face to face.

Closer to home, one of my old friends lost her nineteen year old son two days before Christmas.  I can't imagine that kind of grief.  Another longtime pal, a dear soul with whom I served on the media crew at my former church and who had a gentle but acerbic wit ala Ms. Fisher, passed away last summer in her home town of Pittsburgh after a decades long battle with ulcerative colitis. That was a gut punch. Memories of Laureen could fill several postings.  Her Facebook page remains, with occasional remembrances to brighten her wall.  I'm glad no one has taken it down.

For me, this was a good year. 2015 was far worse.  While two of the major reasons for that, changes in my workplace and living quarters, remain, things were much better this year.  The clinic in which I've served over seven years has undergone tremendous changes, with only a handful with whom I began still around.  Early this year several more left, on to either retirement or to strike out on their own, quite a difficult thing.  Just last month one of my colleagues - who'd worked there for over a decade - was let go.  This sent some serious shock waves with his patients, who feel dispossessed now. I've assumed many of them, trying to maintain continuity of care.   The reasons why the man no longer works with us are numerous and as before, I can't elaborate.  Many of the reasons are valid, others are just, well, life.  How it goes.   But it too feels like a death.

I think about death, unavoidably, when I go see my mother, still floundering in a nursing facility.  This coming February will mark ten years.  A tragedy.  Lately, her spirits have been higher and she actually laughs a bit.  But motivation for her to get out of bed are just empty words.  Her fear is great.  I've tried many times to intervene, short of pulling her out myself.  As always, prayers are appreciated.

I got to see the Grand Canyon for the first time this year.  I got a new car in March.  I attended my cousin's wedding in Chicago.  My first gay wedding.  It was a joyous time.  The ceremony was brief and tasteful.  The music was outstanding.  Unfortunately, the supremely raunchy comedienne who did her act after the reception (why not at an after party?) was one of the most squirm filled hours I can remember.  That was the one dark spot.

Speaking of Chicago....THE CUBS WON THE WORLD SERIES! I'm still basking in that one.

Donald Trump elected. Yeah. You know how I feel about that one. And his appointees? Ugh.

But I look to 2017 with hope, as always.  Things look grim in the world at the moment.  Going back to Chicago - - I was reminded by a NPR newscast this week of the record breaking homicide rate there this year.  My lovely city.  Please stop.  I pray for our President elect and his staff.  It's hard to write anything positive, but my spirit quenches the anger, the bitterness.  My faith has saved me from many things.  I pray it continues to save me from myself in the new year.

And to where we began....undoubtedly, more famous folks will pass in 2017.  We'll weep in disbelief, especially for those who were so vital to our early years.  I wrote posts about such people in '16, like Bowie, Prince, Leonard Cohen.  I did not give George Michael a shout on Lamplight Drivel but he was right in there, a piece of my life.  I imagine, Lord willing, I'll compose a similar year end entry in 365 days.  I pray it is filled with more light.

Happy New Year.

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