43 was one hell of a year. My mother’s cancer returned, my stepmother died, and I put my dad in memory care. We cleaned out and said goodbye to three houses: Meadow Farm Road, Roslyn Hills Drive, and Hillside Avenue. I celebrated 20 years of sobriety, left the country for the first time in two decades, and moved out of my childhood home. I have grieved and loved ferociously. I have been held up, fed, and supported by a network of friends, family, and community I am unreasonably lucky to be a part of.

A month ago my family moved into a house I’d only ever visited in my wildest dreams. It’s spacious and beautiful in a quiet tree-filled neighborhood with wide, well-paved streets. It has fireplaces and skylights and space to spread out and dream and move and be. We’re filling it with beautiful things from antique stores and our own ancestors. Every painting I hang or rug I unroll, I wonder where it will end up when at last, we are gone too.

Yesterday I turned 44. Even though getting older comes with an insane amount of paperwork, bodily rebellion, and an ever increasing awareness of my own mortality, I love it. I wouldn’t go back to my teens or twenties or thirties or even back to 43 and 364 days for any amount of cash or currency. Each year I’m older the knowledge of how lucky I am to be older increases exponentially.

I wish that’s where my awareness ended. But it’s not. The increased awareness of my blessings heightens my awareness of the suffering of others. I struggle with deep shame over the rich blessings in my life when so much of this world is so incredibly fucked up. When people are starving and wrongly jailed and unjustly shot and our government is corrupt and children are separated from their parents on the same land where my own child thrives.

I hope and pray 44 brings balance. I hope and pray that embracing the good in my life fuels my ability to help in some small way to lessen the suffering of others. I pray that I am never blinded to the suffering of the world by the blessings in my life.

Valley HaggardComment