Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Hairpin turns on a foggy night

Beve and I are sitting here at the crease of the year.  In about 18 minutes we'll unfold the crease and begin the drive into 2009.  Well, actually we'll simply pull back the covers and crawl into bed as soon as we make a nodding aquaintance with the new year.  Beve will probably send a text or three, but the year will still be in its infancy eight hours from now, with the wrapping paper still cllinging to it by a piece of tape or two at the corners. 

It'll take a while to discover what 2009 will bring.  In fact, it'll take exactly 365 days to really know what it will be about.  It's only when we look backwards that we know for sure where we've come.  There's no map for chronology, is there?  The road usually looks a little like the old Lewiston Grade.  I realize that only those of you who are my age and older and lived on the border of eastern Washington and northern Idaho, as I did, know what the Lewiston Grade is, so let me tell you.  Think of hairpin turns, a narrow road stuck on thin ledges snaking down a steep hill, and you're beginning to get the picture (A couple of decades ago, a new, less windy road was built down that hill and I began to breathe well enough I could actually ride down it without having to bury my head in a pillow).  Add fog so heavy you barely see to the end of your headlights.  That's the road of life, I think.  No crystal ball, no blueprint, just driving in fog as thick as pea soup.

So no matter what is on the calendar for 2009, it's only when we've reached the end that we'll know what turns we've taken.  So as I sit here (now a mere 4 minutes away from midnight), instead of trying to guess ahead, I thought I'd take a look back since the only fog in that direction is within our memories.

2008 was a patchwork quilt of joy and sorrow  for us personally.  In the first month of the year we said goodbye to my middle brother, whom we'd last talked to nine years earlier, never having reconciled.  And in the last month of the year, it's very clear we're saying goodbye to my mom, even though her body may outlast not only 2008, but 2009 and beyond.  Between, we welcomed new members to our family--a sister-in-law and a niece--at two weddings that were great family parties. We drove E away to Colorado in January and I thought that, for the most part, she would never claim this address as her home again.  Nine months later, she drove back home to find a job.  J began the year in his own apartment and ended it back under our roof as well, a refeathering of our nest that we're glad to do.  SK started the year as a theatre major and ended it as a music major, but barely missed a beat (get it, music and beat?).

We've had wonderful conversations with a plethora of people, interactions that have changed us forever.  I just finished reading a memoir about a woman whose parents are both deaf. As she was writing about relationships, she quoted Helen Keller, (I can't find the exact quote at the moment) that the loss of the blind is things, but the loss of the deaf is relationships.  This settles once and for all the childhood debate I had with my sister about which would be preferable, being blind or being deaf (one of our grandmothers went blind from glaucoma and our other grandmother's sister had been deaf since she was a toddler). It's one thing not to be able to see the sunset, but quite another to not be able to communicate with those I love. After all, communication is sematically related to community, and as a compulsive communicator (as Beve calls me), I am always all about community.  And one of the big losses of this year is about community. After a long, painful struggle, we left a church for the first time in our marriage, and that leaving brought ripples of hurt, for us and, unfortunately, by us.  Such a thing should never be done lightly, and certainly neve without marinating the whole process in prayer.

We took in a kid for a season and what came of that pushed us to our knees more and more.  And what it was about I'm still not sure, but we survived it, and maybe that's enough.  But it colored the year in African hues, I think.  And between all these 'events', we lived ordinary days, days of work and exhaustion on one hand, and of laughter and fun and simple joy on the other.  And for most of those days, I wouldn't trade my life for another living creature on the planet.  I began a blog chronicling those days and the extraordinary God who speaks, one way or another, even in the smallness of my ordinary life.  This blog, I have to say, is one of the best things about this year.  It's given me back the joy in my writing. Sometimes it's a little odd to think of all of you (those whom I know reads this, and those of you I don't), thinking of the inequity of our connection--you know such a large swath of my life while I don't even know who you are--I feel connected to you, whoever you are.  I started this blog thinking it would be like my journals, but my journal entries don't have themes, just meander around like the Lewiston Grade.  This blog knows there are people listening.  That makes the trip to the end of each post more straightforward--like the new highway that has just two gentle curves down the Lewiston hill, and can be driven without fear of falling off.  There's an audience for this blog, and I never write a post without focusing on you.

All in all, as I close my eyes, I'm glad to put turn off the road of 2008.  And I'm ready to face the adventure of 2009.  No matter what it brings, what sorrow, what joys, what rubberband stretching I might have to do.  I have great companions on this foggy road, and One other than me is driving those hairpin turns.

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