Every year around this time, I become rather somber. I remember my late husband Devin’s passing. I remember the lessons I’ve learned throughout the year. I remember the good times too. I try to remember to be gentler of others who weren’t exactly looking forward to the holidays because some years I’m one of those people despite my love of Christmas itself.
This time is no different in that I’m feeling pensive and yet is entirely different in many ways. The country is upside down and inside out. My brain is still processing that my body is just now healing from an injury that could have been resolved thirteen years ago. But at the same time my heart is so deeply thankful I can finally heal. My brain is still processing that I live in North Carolina now and there will be no snow in the coming days. But there will be joy.
I’ve lost a close friend this year and while I’ve lost quite a few friends in my thirty-four years, this loss feels heavier than I’m used to. Not that loss ever gets easier. She was very much like a mother figure to me over the twenty-year span that she was my friend despite my love for my own biological mom.
“She had a way of helping me love the parts of me that I didn’t even know were there by simply accepting me as I was and inviting me to do the same.”
My friend Mary Beth was a woman who reminded me often to be kind to myself, to smile more in photos and occasionally reminded me to stop talking long enough to listen. She knew how to get my attention when I needed to pause and rethink a decision but she also taught me how to be in the moment and just laugh with her even if my day had seemed overwhelmingly dark. She taught me a lot about grace and hope. She was like a spark of light. Whenever I see fireflies, I will forever think of Mary Beth.
As I head into a new year down here in Raleigh, I have quite a few intentions and one of them is to be a better friend to myself and to stop apologizing for being different. I think I’ve said far too many apologies for simply being present instead of thanking folks for being there and allowing myself the grace to make mistakes. I once was so insecure and anxious in a store that I apologized to a cardboard cutout that I bumped into. No more apologies for taking up space.
“Last year’s theme was all about grace and while that’s beautiful, I believe this year’s theme will be transformation. I don’t want to be someone else or become something unrecognizable.”
That sadly was a goal for many years because I couldn’t see my value. If only I weighed less, if my teeth were whiter, if my legs were just a bit longer…no more of that. The kind of transformation I am aiming for is one of physical and emotional healing health.
As woman with Autism Spectrum Disorder, I am self-aware of how important balance is in daily life. It’s a daily struggle that I want to see transform into a strength. What are things you’d like to transform in your life this year? In what ways has the last year helped you grow? What are some goals or dreams for the coming year?