“There are years that ask questions and years that answer.” — Zora Neale Hurston
For me, 2018 has been a year that asked a lot of questions. My husband Curt and I changed jobs, moved across the country, lost his father to a stroke and said goodbye to two beloved pets. We joke that the only major change we didn’t experience in 2018 was divorce! Then we look at each other and laugh.
Much was left behind this year — jobs, parents, pets, states, friends, co-workers, hot tubs, routines, familiar places and faces. When upheaval happens, it’s natural to want to know why, but sometimes it can’t be known. It’s tempting to rail against the dark and unexpected, to struggle with a sense of unfairness.
But in the end, in a year that asks questions, it is better to embrace the questions. And to recognize that sometimes there are no answers.
How do I define myself? Who am I where I am unknown? Am I the same person in California that I was in Florida? Who am I without a job? Who am I without my cats? Why do we experience loss? Why now? How do I grieve my losses, yet continue with daily life?
These questions can cause you to collapse in on yourself, to withdraw, overwhelmed with pain. Some people build a shell to brace themselves against further sorrows. However, one thing I have learned in my five decades on the planet is that burying your grief will not protect you against future loss.
But if you can ride the waves of distress, sometimes going under, lost beneath the blue water, sometimes surfacing to catch a breath, you can remain soft and open and sometimes see beyond the sea’s surface to the brilliant light of the sky. You see that loss is the price paid for love, and that you have a choice. You can build your heavy carapace to protect yourself and sink beneath the waves, or you can continue to swim gently through the waves, enjoying the high points all the more because you know they will not last forever.
I have had years like 2018 before, and I will again — the years follow their own annual wave-like function. I just have to remember when the questions arise to embrace the questions even without the answers.