It’s been a long strange year, and one that I’m very glad to see go.
Heading into 2013 I had some trepidations, not that I’m actually triskaidekaphobic, mind you, but that 13 stuck in my mind, and it made me feel a little uneasy.
Well, it turned out that my uneasy feeling was a bit of a premonition. I spent most of 2013 in and out of hospitals, and for a while there I was a little unsure if my life would ever return to normal. It did though, at least to some degree, and I learned a few very valuable lessons along the way.
First and foremost, I learned that whatever befalls us, it could be worse, and I learned this little lesson via a 2013 tragedy of horrific proportions. Funny how life works sometimes, the strange coincidences that happen.
I was in a local hospital, things were going from bad to worse, and the decision was made to move me to a large Boston hospital. It was a Sunday just before a holiday; Patriots Day, otherwise known as Marathon Monday, to be exact. Time spools out, as it always does in these situations, no room at the inn, etcetera, etcetera, you know the drill. Sunday becomes Monday, Monday drones on. My consolation is an 11am Red Sox game and my little magic plunger; relief is just a click, click, click away. About half way through the game word comes that my room is ready and an ambulance is on the way. As they unhook me and get me ready to go, I click off the TV so we can concentrate on what we’re being told, then my wife and I sit there in silence and wait.
When the paramedics arrive they come into the room very quickly and say something really weird; “Turn on the TV”. “Huh?” is all I can manage at first, but within a few moments I come to understand, as much as you can understand something so awful. The paramedics wanted to get right back into Boston so that they could help out, so they hustled us out and into the ambulance, and my wife and I got a ride we’ll never forget.
Things were crazy in the ensuing days, but the one good thing that came out of it all was that I knew that my situation paled in comparison to what others were experiencing, and it made it easy to keep positive and continue on. There’s always someone who has it tougher, always, and that very valuable lesson was seared into my mind.
The other things I learned were less jarring, but no less important.
When you’re not sure what the future holds for you, and you have lots of down time to think, you tend to focus on the things in your life that are the most important to you, the things you’d miss the most if you never got to do them again. You mentally reorder your life; family and friends become very important, work, not so much, and although it can be very hard for a crabby old man like me to remember, you never, ever want to end things on a bad note with someone you care about, or anyone for that matter, life is just too short.
I also learned that little mundane things can become huge life victories, and that’s really helped me to see things differently. I had a really great Christmas, awesome in fact, but the greatest gifts I received this December were not monetary; being able to take a shower without wearing a wet suit, and being able to roll over on my stomach in bed were nothing short of gifts from heaven. That last one was a great gift for my wife also, as I’m one hella-snorer when I sleep on my back. You’re welcome, babe.
Speaking of babes, and thank yous, I also learned how much my wife, family and friends care about me, especially my selfless wife, and there is no finer gift. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart.
2013 wasn’t all doom and gloom though. We did have that phenomenal run by the Red Sox, who if you ask me were inspired to overachieve by some of the same things that helped me to carry on, and I think our Patriots are borrowing a little of that magic also. No matter what happens or who they lose, the next man up outperforms the last, and they continue to win. There’s something pretty special about that.
I also made it a point to reconnect with as many people in my life as possible. I had plenty of spare time to fill, which made it pretty easy. That, and the fact that my 40th reunion was this year, and it happened to fall perfectly between a pair of surgeries. How lucky is that? It was good to see so many faces from my youth. I find that there’s an interesting side effect that comes from reconnecting with people who hold shared memories with me, regardless of how close you actually were; it reminds me of my family, and how things used to be in my youth, and it brings with it all sorts of bittersweet thoughts and memories. At one point in the weekend we boarded a school bus to take a tour of our home town, and it took all of about 10 minutes for us all to revert back to form, laughing and joking as we travelled back to another time. Amazing.
Anyways, on the whole I’m very happy to say goodbye to 2013, and I’m looking forward to a happy and productive 2014. Back to work, back to a normal life. You can’t imagine how much I’ve missed it.
Hopefully I won’t lose sight of my 2013 lessons learned as I march my way through the New Year. Normalcy tends to breed complacency, and I’ve come too far to revert to form. Life is way too short to be a self-involved wonk.
I hope you all have a safe and happy New Year. Try to take a moment to think about who and what is really important in your life, and what you can do to reorder things a bit, and to let those special people know how you feel. You’ll be glad you did.
That is all.