It is almost 2015. My niece and I begged off from a party here in St. Maarten with my employers extended family. We did that last year, complete with steel drum band. But tonight it felt like it would be too much work being social with friends of the family we don’t really know. We went out to dinner, instead , and then came back to watch some movies. The kids are at the party, dancing the night away and it is quiet here.

I don’t generally like New Years. I am not a party person. The big celebrations with dancing and fireworks are not my thing. If I were at home I would be spending it at a quiet, nice dinner with friends.

And this year? Well I am more than ready to put “it’s a wrap” on 2014. It has been a year I hope never to repeat. There has been joy…a new sweet baby boy in the family…a nephew’s wedding to celebrate…a extended family reunion and an immediate family cottage vacation. But with those joys there has been grief and the sweeping currents of change.

My Dad spend months in and out of the hospital only to finally make it to rehab and eventually decide it was time to come home with hospice care. It seemed like crisis led to hope to crisis and back again. Through it all my Mom remained at home, waiting for my Dad. I fought the idea of hospice care. He and we fought that idea. It, was in my mind, a death sentence.

Then suddenly after he got home, my Mom landed in the hospital. Several long and frustrating weeks later she moved to a wonderful rehab center and started to regain strength. She had a stroke but battled her way back to mobility , albeit slow mobility. Then she suffered a second, more devastating stroke. But up until then, she, and we, thought she might get home. She died in early October.

And my Dad, the one on hospice care, he has been making steady progress…gaining strength. Okay, he’s 94, but gaining strength none-the-less. He says, and we all agree, he is thriving on hospice care. Far from being a death sentence, their support has helped him live.

At about the time my Mom died, I had put in an offer on a townhouse much closer to work. While home for her funeral the offer was accepted, with a closing date just several weeks away. I packed, moved and got my old house on the market…all of it while being in a fog.

And I worried. About my Dad who was struggling with both missing my Mom and feeling so grateful that she hadn’t lingered after the second stroke. I worried about my eldest niece and her family who had moved in with my Dad just shortly before my Mom died. It was a big, quick move for her family. I have to think it has been an adjustment for them and my Dad sharing the home he built 57 years ago.

I worried about my old house selling and the cost of having two homes until it did. I worried about hiring movers and unpacking enough boxes to make the new place livable and maybe even feel a bit like home.

And I kept dropping boxes off at Goodwill and bring more stuff from the old place to the new place.

I went home for Thanksgiving and felt the absence of my Mom for that first holiday. We planned for Christmas and the surprise of my oldest brother flying home to surprise my Dad for his birthday (94!) and Christmas.

Then there we were celebrating my Dad’s birthday…the one none of us expected him to make. We had a good Christmas. We missed my Mom so much but we huddled a little closer, took nothing for granted and smiled and cried together.

(And yesterday, with me out of the country, the closing on my old house went smoothly and I am happy to say I own only one house, not two!)

So here I sit…in St. Maarten, with my niece and my employers, as I have for
the last five years and it feels familiar but my heart and life feel very different.

I am grateful for the joys this past year has brought but tonight is just a mishmash of emotions. So goodbye 2014.

Please be gentle and kind with us 2015.