Christmas was a struggle. Hard, painful, exhausting. Every moment was a fight just to get through, and I honestly wondered what would happen when I failed. For the record, I did fail – and no one cared. There was no punishment, no censure, no disapproval. And I made it through without hurting myself or anyone else, and so maybe that’s a different type of success.
New Year’s Eve was different. I spent New Year’s Eve with friends. There was no singing. There was wine, copious amounts of it. And there were friends, beautiful people who have opened their community and their hearts to me, and who love me despite everything and allow me to love them. I still don’t understand how I can be so blessed.
We went up to the Cathedral – which stands on one of the highest points of the city – to watch the nine o’clock fireworks. In the darkness, among the mood of anticipation, I turned to look up at the Cathedral – my Cathedral, my home – lit from below. An edifice, a monument, towering over the city, over me. And at the moment the fireworks flared into bright being, so too did the bells of the Cathedral start, pealing the end of the old year out over the city.
By that point in the evening, it must be admitted that I wasn’t precisely sober. And the filter through which I regulate my emotions (and my thoughts – I talk far too much when I’ve been drinking) isn’t as strong under the influence of my friends’ good sparkling white. And so, standing in the darkness, a few steps away from my beloved friends, I didn’t bother to try to fight the tears that gathered behind my eyes.
They weren’t sad tears – not like the painful, choking tears of Christmas Eve, weeping in the darkness outside the Cathedral out of pure painful frustration that it was all so hard. These were full tears. A vivid, fragile feeling behind my sternum, where I feel things: this is my Cathedral, my home, my place of safety, sending its own music out over a city I’ve made my home, in commemoration of the end of a year that has been one of the most difficult, and painful, and turbulent, and nourishing, years of my life. And, standing with me beneath the song of the Cathedral, were people who have chosen, out of love, to share that year and that journey with me. Shared the darkness and the pain of it with me. Reminded me to laugh, and to celebrate beauty, and to eat ice-cream. Infused me with strength when I’ve had none, held hope when I’ve lost sight of it, been light for me when the darkness has become too strong.
These beautiful people, whose friendship I’ve been given regardless of whether I deserve it – not to mention those friends who weren’t present beneath the Cathedral that night but who are always present in my heart – stand with me as we face a new year. We will be light in darkness to each other; and infuse each other with strength and love and hope as we all face what this year brings to each of us. This year I will continue to care for these people, and they will continue to care for me. We will continue to love each other, and – whatever painful darkness of healing this year brings – I will continue to know just how deeply and abundantly I am blessed.
Last night I didn’t write a blog post because I was too tired, which may have had something to do with staying awake talking with wonderful, beautiful friends until four am on New Year’s Day. I really am truly stupid, and truly blessed.