Cheers! Bonne Annee! Mazel tov! Pröst!
The New Year is here, a glimpse of faith and illusion that all can start over again. Let’s let go of all the weight and burden of the past year. It’s January 1st, a clean slate to better days and bigger dreams. I am resolved to be a better, healthier, happier, stronger, more inspired soul, and this is the year I will reset and rejoice to be who I want to be. I shall call to let all my loved ones know… there is a new beginning.
The phone rings. Cheers-ready, we answer… No word said, but just heard: “Can you believe she just died, just like that? She woke up, said hello, sat on the couch, felt dizzy, we called 911. They came, and she said ‘See you later, do not worry, all will be well…’ and lifting her arms to the sky, just died right there on the stretcher!” Silence. New Year stabbed before it started.
It’s January 7. The church feels immense and floating. Front rows of black backs and back rows of white hair, hunched, crushed old-time friends. She would never have wanted the tears, so how do we bring back the cheers? We each walk in front of her husband, body-shaken by convulsive cries, he gazes at us. What kind of year starts with such loss? As we walk in for the after-mass gathering, champagne is popped. Finally, bubbles, chatter, laughter again…
Each grandchild rises and celebrates her life…and then it happens.
“The last time I spoke to Grandma, she told me how proud of me she was,” one whispers his head down. Then stands another. Silence. No word, just a smile. “Every time I called Grandma, she always said, “How are you? What’s new in your life? What is making you happy?” and today I realize I never said, “Grandma, how are you?” In all those years, I never thought about asking her how she was!”
More silence. We all finally celebrate the true wisdom of time as years pass.
Death “on the first” is an uncanny reminder that we may want to celebrate turning the page and starting fresh. But it is not about the days, the date or the celebrated achievements of a life that unfolds in a glimpse upon us… It’s about every time we can – and should choose to – stop time and ask those around us, “How are you? What’s new in your life? What is making you happy?” In the New Year, I will not vouch to add superlatives to my life, I will simply take a moment to ask about others. it will be my way to finally be better, happier, stronger and a more inspired soul.