When it's time to seal away an old year and uncork the new one, I usually feel excited, anticipating what is in store. A new year brings new adventures, and with these come hope. Hope that a fresh year will begin with beauty, be filled with beauty, and end with even more beauty.
In 1997, I entered the year with hope that my son Daniel would finish his treatments for cancer (neuroblastoma) and become a healthy boy of four once again. Instead, Daniel took a turn for the very worst. He got an infection, went into a coma, and died in my arms on February 2.
When 1997 ended and people were making new year's resolutions, eagerly anticipating another 365 days, I could not join them. I did not want 1997 to end. Heading into 1998 would be entering a new year without Daniel. As each day passed, it was one more day since I'd last read him a story, bathed him, or laughed with him.
Since his birth, I'd begun five new years, each one, with him and my other children by my side. But now, he was gone.
I knew I'd have to find a way to enter the new year with him. I imagined a basket, made of a heavy weaving, like one we'd received a floral arrangement in when Daniel was born in 1992. On slips of paper, I wrote single words and strings of words to capture events and sayings Daniel had experienced. Some were funny, some tender, but above all, each one made me smile.
I would carry both figuratively and literally these pleasant memories of my son into the new year.
There was no fear that he would be forgotten or that the next year would be void of his memories.
He would not make any new memories in 1998, but I would carry the old with me.
With the church bell’s ringing
the New Year enters
echoing the days of yesteryear.
Memories of happiness
the smiles of our children,
the sunlight within each face.
Who will remember these dear ones
far from our yearning arms?
Who remembers all they were,
the way she danced, the hat he wore?
With the old year gone
will they no longer be known?
We will remember them, each one.
We will hold them in our hearts
as we carry memories into this New Year.
We will allow the memories
to make us laugh, to make us sing.
Their lives will fill the air
as the church bells ring.
~ Alice J. Wisler