Saying goodbye to 2010

This is the beginning of a new day.
God has given me this day to use as I will.
I can waste it or use it for good.
What I do today is important, because
I am exchanging a day of my life for it.
When tomorrow comes,
this day will be gone forever,
leaving in its place something
that I have traded for it.
I want it to be gain, not loss;
good not evil; success not failure;
in order that I shall not regret
the price I paid for it.
–Author Unknown

I wasn’t going to write a “last post” of 2010. I haven’t felt inspired to write for a while and figured I’d just start off 2011 fresh — as fresh as I could anyway. However, as I reread past blog posts and thought about it some more, the more I felt like I should write something if only to have it to look back on later and for posterity. So here I am, writing something/anything with three burned fingertips.

I discovered this evening it’s NOT a good idea to grab a cookie sheet out of a 350 degree oven without an oven mitt. I’m 35 years old. You’d think I’d have learned that lesson by now, but that’s how my life has been lately. My brain is distracted — trying to process other things — and I’ve been making stupid mistakes like burning my fingers or thinking I’m taking a shortcut somewhere only to discover I’m going very much out of my way. It’s been weird and a little alarming.

But that’s my life — weird and a little alarming. Yet it’s also been pretty amazing too.

The past year was quite wonderful until the last quarter when all hell broke lose and life as I knew it was forever altered.

Some of the good things (though many nerve-racking in their own way) included:

  • Doing home improvements on our first home in order that we could…
  • Sell our first home.
  • Packing and moving to our new home.
  • Taking the kids hiking by myself.
  • Going to my second BlogHer conference…
  • which happened to be someplace I’d never been before — New York City!
  • Julian weaning completely on his own (a few months before he turned 4).
  • Starting home schooling with Ava.
  • Canning and preserving a lot of food.

And then tragedy hit when my little sister Carrie was killed in a car accident on Oct. 25. The day of Oct. 26 — from the time I received the news from the coroner (somewhere around 3:30 a.m.) until I went to bed many, many, many hours later that night — was the. worst. day. of. my. life.

The end of October and month of November are mostly a blur for me. I know somehow I helped orchestrate two memorial services — one here in Colorado and one in Michigan. I buried my sister. I somehow managed to get my kids and myself to appointments, classes, school, etc. I traveled to Michigan. I did a little catching up with some old friends, extended family members, and even my brother (whom I’d pretty much been estranged from for 15+ years). I’m not sure how everything came together, but with the help of amazing friends — both mine and Carrie’s — and supportive family members (and my higher power), it did.

My therapist is encouraging me to start moving more toward acceptance with regard to Carrie’s death, but it’s so very hard. I still want to deny that any of this happened. I still want to wake up from the nightmare. Yet I don’t. And I won’t.

And so I’ve started reading books about grief — about surviving the death of an adult sibling, about sudden loss. And I continue to see my therapist regularly and listen to her suggestions about how I can begin to accept this tremendous loss and soothe and support myself.

In the book I’ve been reading about a sudden loss, the author explains that anyone who receives news of the sudden loss of a loved one should treat themselves as if they are in intensive care for two weeks. While that sounds like a really good idea — I would’ve loved to have hid in bed for two weeks — with all of the details and arrangements that need to be made — as well as caring for one’s family — it’s not very realistic. That’s why my therapist wants me to do things that allow me to care for myself and really nurture myself — even though it’s been two months since Carrie died — during this time.

While billions of people around the world are celebrating the end of 2010 and welcoming in the new year and new decade tonight, it’s not something I feel compelled to do this year. Yet Jody, the kids and I still had a little celebration of sorts tonight. (I find that I have to carry on with some things like Halloween, Christmas and New Year’s — even though hiding under a rock sounds more appealing — just because I have kids. And honestly, that’s probably a good thing.) With wine in Jody’s and my glass and blackberry Izze in Ava’s and Julian’s, I gave a toast — to making happy memories in the new year — and we all clinked glasses. And then I proceeded to spill my wine, not once, but twice, and that was only after a few sips. (It’s that brain distracted thing again, I’m telling ya.) I’m happily drinking water now.

After cleaning up the spills and thinking about it a little more, I feel like the memories we create with one another are really the most precious gifts we have. It is through shared memories of my sister that she will not be forgotten. Even though my kids are only 4 and 6, they will hear so many stories over the years of the silly, courageous, funny, absent-minded, amazing, and inspiring things my sister did — not only from me and Jody and family members, but I hope also from her friends, that they will not forget her. Carrie’s spirit and memory will live on. Honestly, I don’t know how it couldn’t. When someone lives as full, amazing, determined and inspiring life as Carrie did, their spirit lives on in everyone who’s life they touched. And knowing Carrie, that’s a whole lot of people.

To live in hearts we leave behind
Is not to die.

–Thomas Campbell, Hallowed Ground

While I don’t look forward to starting a new year without my sister physically present in my life, I know she is still around. I also know she would want me to continue to follow my passions and dreams. She was very supportive of my blog and my many causes. There were often times I turned to her for help with wording in a particular post and I’ll miss her fresh perspective (and so, so many other things). But I know she would want me to continue my blog, even though there are days I wonder why I still have it.

As I say goodbye to 2010, I wish you all a new year of happy memories — of cherished moments with those you love. Take the time to mend broken fences (or broken hearts). Take the time to enjoy the little things. Take the time to say I love you. Better yet, make the time.

You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.
–Ralph Waldo Emerson

Photo via: David Paul Ohmer

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16 thoughts on “Saying goodbye to 2010”

  1. The Thomas Campbell poem was one brought to my attention soon after we lost our friend suddenly in 2004. I truly feel his presence in many of the decisions I make even today – his impact was that meaningful to my life.

    Even though I don’t always see eye to eye with you, since meeting you a year and a half ago, I have learned so much from you. Because of that, I am so very glad you posted this evening.

    May 2011 be kinder and may the happy memories of Carrie carry you through the tough days.

  2. I’m glad you decided to write one last blog post for 2010. I felt like I owed you every word and nuance you wrote vs. skimming for the most valuable parts, like eating the yummy part of the asparagus and discarding the tougher stems.

    I’m grateful for all I have and have never experienced a loss like yours. How you feel only exists in my imagination, and I am amazed at what you are able to pull off in the midst of your grief. There is a driving force within that transcends the grief to continue being the best mom you can be to your children.

    You are a superhero mom to me. Not because you are perfect and pull it all together without a hitch. It’s because you’re not afraid to admit that you don’t always do it 100% perfect 100% of the time.

  3. An outstanding blog, Amy. I, too, am still in a “brain fog”, still trying to deny Carrie’s passing, but also feeling that she is around me. She can still inspire you and will if you are open to it. Hopefully, this new year will be full of growth, good health, new experiences and happiness.
    I love you and am so proud of the mother, wife, activist, and writer you have become.

  4. Just want you to know how VERY proud I am of you. You’re doing all the right things. Carrie will live forever – forever young – like Gina and be w/ us always. Love you, Aunt Jo

  5. I wish for you a wonderful 2011. I wish for you that in one year’s time you can look back on this post and be at peace. I wish for you to gain strength from all those who support you. I wish for you a Happy New Year.

  6. This made me cry. I’m so sorry that Carrie is gone and I wish with all my heart that I could give her back to you so you didn’t have to leave denial. Because you’re my friend and because I have a sister too I think of you daily and mourn with you. She will always be remembered.

    In other news – I know what you mean!! I’m “flakey” like that too right now. It drives me absolutely bat shit insane!! I’ve gone so far as to FORGET TO PICK A KID UP AT SCHOOL and I spend most of my life doing really dumb things. Like dropping stuff. Or how every time I walk to the corner of the kitchen I accidentally dump whatever I’m carrying (water, tea, oil, salad dressing, baking mix….) into the lazy suzan in the corner. I too burnt myself this week – I saw dirt on the burner so went to scrape it off, forgetting that the burner was on. It’s getting really old and i’m tired of being in a fog. I wonder why my brain is like this – and that yours is too. Stress? Lack of sleep? Anyways, you are certainly not alone in that. We can be brain dead buddies :p

  7. Dear Amy –
    I did not know your sister and I actually started reading your blog right around the time of your loss. Through your words and others who knew her its as though I can feel a brightness of who she was and I know she is a permanent imprint on who you will always be.
    Thank you for sharing this final blog of the year. I will be praying for you that you find your own special way to find solace.

  8. I am so sorry for your loss. I can so empathize with your every word. I lost my husband and unborn daughter in a car accident in 2008. Our 3 year and I survived. Being a mom, having those lovely, tiny faces that need so much from us, can help greatly in keeping us strong in the midst of grief. They also make us love more deeply because we know that time can be short.
    Do take the time to nurture yourself, find the moments of joy that inevitably sneek up on you and bask in them! Give yourself permission to sneak off, fall completely apart and put yourself back together again… it’s amazing how a good, hard cry can cleanse your soul.
    I hope the new year brings you may blessings, joyous moments and wonderful new memories!

  9. I have this idea you see….Bold and decisive Carrie came up and sang with our band at a smokey sober club, and I got this idea you see….I talked the Bass player into joining us, (his basement was the rehearsal space), and with a new Shure mic and a scratchy PA, we started a new adventure. And as if she didn’t already have toooo much going on.

    Carrie had fun. She smiled a lot. We played live at a party. It was excellent. Thanks Carrie S. And thanks Amy for this……Idea. EO

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