Content warning: Discussion of suicide, pregnancy loss, and mental health.
2017 started with a suicide in my husband’s immediate family followed by a miscarriage. Grief left me feeling wrong-footed and cotton-mouthed; I managed to talk about the latter but remain tongue-tied by the former.
(Where would I start? We were never close. His death revealed decades of abuse and years of deteriorating health. A lot of what I felt – still feel – is ugly and raw and flies in the face of loved ones who have a balance of more good memories than bad. It’s taken a year to come to terms with these feelings and with myself as someone capable of feeling that way.)
There are plenty of happy memories; it wasn’t an entire year of doom and gloom. With everything underpinned by these two events, however, a lot of my memories are emotionally dissonant:
Long nights spent with grieving relatives, surrounded by flowers and condolences and tears, while Olivia and her cousin played and startled laughs out of everyone present.
Welcoming a new nephew less than a week after actively miscarrying.
Drifting through holidays like a bad dream, dodging the inevitable well-meaning but nonetheless invasive questions.
Wishing happy birthday to my grandma-in-law who, for one horrible night in January, didn’t think she would live to see another birthday.
It’s laughable to think that the year also ended on a low note – a household case of the flu – but getting sick turned out to be 2017’s parting sucker punch. All’s well and good while you’re busy and focused on the future! Until you find yourself couch-bound with nothing but time to reflect on a year’s worth of things you tried very hard to think and talk around instead of about.
In a way, though, I think this was the best possible ending to the year, despite starting the new year both physically and emotionally raw. Goodbye and good riddance to 2017. 2018 won’t be a clean slate, but I’m in a better place to make peace with the bad and choose the good going forward.