2018: In Memoriam
Typically we reserve the idea of memoriam for the death of a person. But I am feeling the need to remember, grieve, and let go of 2018. To give it a send off so that 2019 has clear air and a fresh start.
The start of 2018 found me in Stockholm with no idea what the year would bring. The first 8 days of 2018 did not even include the idea of Berlin. Instead those days were filled with me plotting how I would try to make a life in Stockholm, moving into the white beauty of my Vasastan apartment, and slow methodical attempts at learning Swedish.
Then Berlin happened. First it was the idea of Berlin. Then it was decisions to be made. Lots of conversation. New negotiations made with a fuzzy brain. And eventually movement…a flat, a pack, a move, another change.
2018 began as a year in which the soul and being of my dad was alive on earth. It wasn’t until February that everything changed with the ring of my phone. Suddenly it was time for hard conversations. A father making amends. A daughter extending forgiveness. A mother going silent…maybe for the last time. Sisters drawing nearer to support. New friends standing in the open lonely space. Old friends feeling grieved and distant at the grieving.
Always I will know the pain of those moments. Me in the middle of the night in Stockholm. Him with no breaths left to breath in the daylight in Arizona. Moving into the guest room so that I could take the call from a bed I didn’t sleep in so that I would be able to sleep in my own bed again without thinking “This is where I learned my Dad died.” Knowing. Being Known. But only lightly because the water was deep and wide and tumultuous under that bridge between us. And still…forgiveness. Grace. Little girl again…if only for a moment.
I’m a leader. But my choices in 2018 thrust me into so many decisions that impacted so many people. Who will be moved to a new country. Who will be given an opportunity to lead more fully? Who will need to find something new? Who will depart without good feelings? Where is the goddamn extra toilet paper in this new office?
In years to come, when I think of this year, I will know that it was a turning point. The time I gave it all. I left nothing in reserve for the work. I worked ridiculously long hours (Amazon kind of hours) and felt at times like it was complete chaos and mayhem. I was astonished by the talent of the people willing to follow and grateful for the partners to walk along side me. I sometimes felt there was no one at my back to prop me up and champion me. And I often felt the weight of the room looking at me to see what I would say, do, feel next.
Putting my face in check…measuring my words…and STILL showing up vulnerable and authentic took all of my courage and determination. I failed some. I succeeded some.
A few years ago I went through the deepest darkest valley that my mind had ever wandered into. I felt bullied, betrayed, and desperate to find the light again. When 2018 began, I’d have told you nothing was ever as hard as that year. But what 2018 taught me that hard is relative. That other year was so fucking excrutiating…but it wasn’t lonely.
2018 was lonely. It was a new kind of hard. I have people. I am loved. Others are there. And I am ever so grateful. And still…lonely persisted. Alone felt close.
Change can be lonely-making. Newness of language, culture, people, and familiarity can leave a wake of aloneness. And grief…even grief shared with those you love…is suffered in the space where we are on our own. It’s an inside walk.
And still…the lonliness created longing in me. In created vulnerability. It forced me to reach out. If made me seek connection. And connection is what I found. Both with those at home and those in my nearer circles of Berlin and Stockholm. I saw and felt effort on the part of others and it was a healing balm to my case of the lonely.
2018 was so hard.
2018 was so good.
It will go down in the record books as fundamental to my own growth. Growth in my love for myself and others. Growth in my own courage. Growth in getting really really honest with myself and others. Growth in accepting myself as I am and not being as concerned about the way I’m perceived. Growth in my knowledge of my own failures and shortcomings. Growth in grace and compassion for others.
Thank you 2018.
Also fuck you 2018.
But mostly Thank You.