The Year That Was

When I look back on 2020, it’s easy to recount the challenges it brought us with the pandemic and the social and political unrest. I’m also reminded of the gifts it bestowed upon us.

No, I’m not going to do a retrospective of the year. I’ll leave that to others.

Still, 2020 was a year of extreme contrast. The year was ripe with evidence that we humans are indeed capable of coexisting with opposing feelings, thoughts, and experiences simultaneously.

One of the happiest moments of my life came to be this past year, one I’ve been (not so) patiently waiting on for several years.

My first grandchild, Cole, arrived in March as the pandemic began to explode in the US. Not until he was 5 months old was I able to hug my daughter and hold that precious little being. The joy I felt for his arrival expanded my heart and soul. The agony of not being able to welcome him into this world, and not being there for my daughter was almost unbearable.

One of the saddest moments of my life also came to be in 2020.

In November, my siblings and I lost our mother after years of health challenges. Caring for her at home in those final days evoked feelings of gratitude and unfairness. Her only wish was to have her four adult children by her side as she left this world. We were able to honor that wish while our hearts were simultaneously being broken and assuaged, knowing her suffering was over.

Mom and Cole shared only seven months on this earth together.

The first time she held him was just a week before she died. I am forever marked by that moment, witnessing the love shared between these intimate strangers. Joy and sadness washed over me. Their time together was so fleeting and yet is frozen in time.

I hold each of these moments with reverence.

One part of an experience cannot be separated from the other. Nor would I want it to be. Acknowledging and holding both at the same time is bittersweet, yes. AndI know it grows my capacity to feel the richness of being fully human.

And you? 

What contradictory moments did you experience in the complexity of the year that was?

Were there moments of anger, sorrow, discomfort, or pain accompanied by joy, contentment, gratitude?  

Did you miss that second part?  Perhaps it’s there waiting to be uncovered.

For 2021, may we all be blessed with the ability to fearlessly notice, take in, and appreciate the full range and paradoxical beauty of such moments.

Even if not immediately revealed.

For more self-exploration…

  • What have you lost this past year? Who or what are you grieving?
  • What sustained you? What got you through that you can celebrate?
  • What have you discovered from holding both at the same time?
  • What do you need to revisit and discover?