Leaving January behind

Micki Cottle Guest columnist

January 31, 2014

The pale light of January slants through the windowpane, highlighting the room I write in and I am struck with the sudden beauty of a new day, a, new year. In what seems like an elaborate choreographed dance of time, we have come to this moment, this hour, this 2014.

I need to move on to consider this new day, but there is no hurry. There will be chances aplenty, God willing. So, for now the dazzling music of the song is itself, reward enough.

How fortunate we’ve been to have embraced another year of good health, good friends, laughter; and numbing sadness. All the bits and pieces of life that make us or break us. This old year has bent and shaped all our lives in every direction.

January, like its namesake, Janus, always faces two direction. Hesitant to move forward too quickly, it is a lingering month that offers us slices of time to pause on our past hours as we slowly thumb through the chapters of life. For a second our new pages will be empty.

Some years we really celebrated each New Year, wildly, in the wonderful carelessness of youthful madness; we threw our dice in the wind, we danced through our days. Other years came by so quietly they were hardly noticed at all. A few tore at our hearts as they seemed to mark the beginning of an ending, the final passing of an hour, an hour that could nevermore be reclaimed. So many losses, so many lives who would forever leave their imprint on our hearts; ah, then there came the births, the new lives. Sadness and joy, endings and beginnings. Both sides of the coin.

Sometimes there were those days that seemed so perfect and seamless, golden days that you’ll treasure always, remember? Others were so troubling, bringing such confusion, that at times you wondered if you would ever walk again through gentle evening mists, humming your old songs. January has also brought us snow, this was a present for the children!

A quote by King George : “I said to the man at the gate of the year, pray give me a light that I may go forth into the unknown.” And the man replied; “Put your hand in the hand of God. That shall be to you better than any light, safer than any known way.”

In the reality of 2012, we saw the kindnesses of so many who defied the ugly scars of humanity and tried to heal them. Then there were others who played with evil like a spinning top, and left us frightened, vulnerable.

Both changed the world, changed each of us for better or worst, and both left their marks on our lives.

Gentle ghosts travel always at our sides. Memories either harsh or kind will whisper to us daily, reminding us of the year that was. And now it is done. Now we have entered a new door, a new time, a new beginning.

But, there will still be times when the air is soft with a rain-blessed dawn and the streets shimmer wetly in the beginning darkness of a cold winter evening; times that will make us pause for a moment and seriously consider this silent, brooding old year, and even though it is no more, we will remember. I will recall the sweetness of the husband I just lost; dear friends, the warmth of kindness that blessed our days, and all moments shared in laughter.

Most of these exits from life seem harder for those of us left behind. Sometimes I must turn away from the sadness. I know there must be a beginning and an end, the first breath and the last sigh for us all. But in the meantime there are all those infinite moments of “just living.” And those we lost lived their moments well. They made it easier for us to say goodbye, for we knew they had laughed and cried and loved as well as they could.

The poet Whitman reminds us:

“ Nothing is ever really lost, or can be lost

No birth, identity, form, no object of this world

Nor life, nor force, nor any visible thing

The embers left from earlier fires, shall duly flame again.”

So welcome then 2014. I hail your arrival with all the revelry I have left in my soul.

I know; I know it’s your turn.

Be gentle.