It has been five years since my ski accident. My new new year. Where the newness of the year starts for me. My beginning. My years. Defined at the end of January 21st.
As a woman who is all about reflection, I can’t help but defining these years.
2013: The Year of Survival.
2014: The Year of Thriving.
2015: The Year of Change.
2016: The Year of Stagnation.
And I truly believed those things at the end of that last year. I believed I would create—get out of this rut. I tried. But a week after January 21st, 2017, my sister called and asked if she and her one-year-old daughter could move in with us. We said yes. She wavered. She pushed it back. We tried every second of every day for weeks to help her get on that plane. She finally did.
It was a surreal couple months. There was more joy in our home than I could have ever imagined. I also saw darkness in my sister—and in this world—that was deep. It’s like I had seen this darkness through a crack in the door before, but at this time, I opened the door and stepped into the room. In there, in that darkness, I was shocked and scared when I couldn’t see my own hand in front of my face. Deep darkness that shook in my chest.
Even though the darkness was deep, the hope was bright. I’d see a flash of hope light up the room of darkness and cling to it. More of this in the future! I yelled, as we placed all our chips on the flashes of light.
I tried to be the best support system. I tried to be caring and stern, without being a mom. I tried to be a good sister, without being too controlling. I tried to be a good wife, without sacrificing too much of our life. I tried to be a chauffeur/babysitter/cook, without being bitter.
Evan tried to be a strong male influence, without being a dad. Evan tried to be present, without letting his nursing school work suffer.
My sister tried to stay clean, without going crazy. My sister tried to find work, while finding childcare. My sister tried to be a good mom. My sister tried so hard.
My niece tried to communicate, even though she couldn’t talk. My niece tried to grow, something she desperately needed to do. My niece tried to get our attention at every turn, a learned-necessity.
We all tried. It was trying. We tried.
My sister left us and relapsed. She did not come back to the home we made with her. She didn’t even call us to tell us she wasn’t coming home. This sequence was filled with more crying than I thought was humanly possible. In helpless ways I didn’t know were possible. When you cry on the floor, because you can’t stand. You can’t move. But you can’t stop crying. For days.
I miss them almost every day. I’m trying to not.
Then it was April. We quickly had two funerals in a month. Evan’s grandmother and an old boss and mentor of mine, who was not old at all.
In May, I took a beach vacation with a friend who was just as sad. We didn’t even try to pretend we weren’t sad. It was perfect.
Later in May, my brother reached out to me, trying to make sense of his world, his life. We flew him out to Bozeman for a few days to make sure he was okay and safe. This meant we finally had to move one sibling’s things out of our guestroom, so that the other could move in. He left before we wanted him to.
In June, I ran and Evan studied.
In July, the company I work for desperately tried and tried for new accounts, new clients. Pitching. Late nights. Creating. We tried. With no success. Exhausting. Defeating. “Close second.” Throughout the year, we went from 12 to six employees. It’s a hard thing to see all of those friends leave and to keep trying.
Then we took off on a bike tour that was amazing, albeit much too hard for me.
I finished the bike tour with a double ear-infection, which may or may not have contributed to the months of vertigo. Trying to stay upright. A trying year, for sure.
The next four months, the end of the year, was just Evan and myself trying and trying. Tests. Jobs. Programs. Residencies. Fellowships. Submissions. Our relationship. Somehow we kept trying, after rejections galore. We stopped for a bit. We had to. To rest.
2017: The Trying Year.
And it just occurred to me that for a lot of couples, “trying” means “trying to get pregnant.” That was definitely not the case for us this year. Trying real hard for the opposite—in fact. Though I did have a friend ask…
– Did seeing Evan with your niece make you feel any better about having children with him?
It took me aback. I had never questioned how incredible of a father Evan will be, so I was not surprised when he was incredible with our niece. Not surprised, but still smitten. I didn’t need to “feel better” about Evan before we have kids. I need to feel better about this world and my world.
Though this year was trying, there were so many highlights.
• I keep saying, “This year sucked, but at least I saw Hamilton.” I SAW HAMILTON!!
• This really was one of the coolest moments of my life.
• I fought vertigo to go conquer the hardest race I’ve ever done in my life and have an incredible weekend in the mountains with amazing friends.
• Al-Anon. Honestly, this resource saved me. I don’t wanna speak for Evan, but I believe it helped him this year. I highly recommend finding a meeting if you have a loved one who is struggling with alcoholism or addiction.
• I learned how to fly-fish, which I find more joy in than I could imagine.
• I stood on stage and told a story. A rush. A joy. (no video or audio… just a moment marked in the moment.)
• And then MARFA! Learning how to make radio! What a perfect week. It was incredible. That one was a win.
And as much as I’ve bagged on this last year, the relationships that were strengthened and made are something I treasure. Though it ended badly, I had a sister for the first time in over a decade. I had her. Here. And we were friends. I had a niece that was plopped in my bed many mornings who tried to steal my teddy bear. Those laughs and that time would’ve never been there without the risk we took.
I am closer with my brother now. This year made that happen.
I got so much amazing quality time with my dear friend Allison this year and we loved it so much that she moved herself to Bozeman and moved in with us!
I made a good handful of friends. That’s HUGE. I got closer to so many friends. And I got to see so many loved ones this year.
Evan and I have never been closer—for better or worse. We’re in this together.
I am grateful.
It has been trying. And we have been trying. I have been trying.
On to the next year. Good riddance to this one. Let’s go. Let’s dance while we go.