The End.


Today is the last day of 2011. I feel like I have been waiting for this day for a very long time. 2011 was by far the most difficult year of my life so far. I am neither young enough nor naive enough to believe that just because the calendar starts over that the bad things just go away, but, I am optimistic enough to know that the start of a new year can symbolize new beginnings.
2011 has challenged me in ways that I never expected. My father’s illness and passing were really only the beginning of learning things I would just as soon do without. But, I guess I needed to learn what I have and I am sure that there is more learning to come. For instance, I have learned that I am not as strong as I thought I was, I am not as secure in myself as I thought I was and I no longer think I can handle things on my own. All of that was not fun to learn, I can assure you of that, but, I am glad I know it, because now I know what I can work on.
In the past year, I have gained a deeper understanding of my relationships and that I have some truly amazing people in my life. I have also gained a deeper understanding of another relationship in particular..the one I have (or don’t have) with my mother. While much of what I have learned is unsettling, uncomfortable and difficult to accept, with the amazing support I have around me, I no longer hold myself to a standard that I did not set, nor did I agree to. If I were to write the full story of my life, this part would be, by far, the longest chapter. Maybe someday I will, but, for now, I hold it close to me and only the people who know me for a very long time know the depth of the damage that has been caused, not only to me, but, mostly to my brother. I do not have hatred or blame, but I do have anger, sadness and confusion and some of what I hope to accomplish in 2012 is the further unraveling of those emotions. I hope to clear them out of my heart and mind and find a way to make it all okay in myself. Wish me luck…this has been going on a very, very long time!
I have learned that people can make me laugh, even when I don’t want to (Paul & Jason), that people will listen to my sad story over and over, without judgement or telling me to just get over it (Lisa, Stacy & Pam), that people will offer me good counsel and support just about whenever I need it (Dennis), that people will offer to watch our pets so we can go away without a second thought (Karen) and that people will spend hours with me talking about everything and nothing while floating in the ocean (Lauri & Jake). I have learned that my young cousins being excited to see me is one of the best feelings ever. I have learned that sitting on the cold, dirty ground with a shelter dog in my lap is one of the best ways I have ever spent my time. I have learned that opening our home to one of those dogs, so that she may live a long, happy life is one of the most rewarding (and challenging) things I could ever do. I have learned that there are people who work tirelessly to make sure that more animals have the chance at life than I could have ever imagined and am in awe of this and aspire to be more like them.
Having said all of that, it makes 2011 look not so bad. The truth is that the undercurrent of sadness I feel at the loss of my dad is just under the surface of all of it. My dad was young and he was a happy person, despite the toll Parkinson’s Disease took on him in such a quick time. He was fun to be with and so many things just aren’t the same without him here. I take heart in the fact that we spent a lot of time together in the last few years, but, I would give anything to have more.
As I kick 2011 in the ass out the door, I realize that there are so many things I am grateful for. Things that a couple of weeks ago I chose to ignore or simply could not find. There truly was a period of time where I couldn’t find my gratitude. That scared me and I know my behavior scared some people close to me. And, for that I am sorry. I don’t expect my worry or sadness to just go away, but, I hope to be able to keep an eye on the bigger picture and remind myself that whatever it is, it will pass.
Later today, I plan on writing down all of the things that caused me pain this year. I plan on tearing the paper up into small bits and getting rid of them at 11:59pm to open the door to a more positive 2012. While I do all of this with hope, I know that hope is pointless without doing the footwork. So, along with my husband and my brother, we are doing the footwork to move forward. We are planning to move to Georgia, starting a business, and working to save more dogs lives. In moving to Georgia, we will be closer to my uncle, his wife and kids and starting the next chapter. Moving to Georgia will give at least one of us a clean slate, something that has proven almost impossible here.
2011 will be a year that I certainly will never forget, as much as I would like to. I think years from now, when I look back, this year will remain the one in which I cried the most, learned the most and experienced the most. Maybe one day, I will look back and say thank you to the Universe for showing me so much. I know this now..I may not be as strong or secure as I thought, but I am not giving up on trying. I am not giving up on the good things. As always, I will dust myself off and try again.
Thank you to all of my friends and family who were there for me this year. Thank you to my husband for putting up with me, I know it couldn’t have been easy on a daily basis. Thank you to all of my shelter friends (many of who I have met only once) for inspiring me to try to do more. Most of all, Thank you to my dad for being upbeat and positive until the very end. What a great example of how to live life and I hope to become more like him every day.


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