can be beautiful and scary at the
you can be hurting and
wondering what tomorrow will
bring, but you can also be healing
sometimes it's best not to
question why you're feeling this
way, but instead experience all of
the emotions change may bring...
change can be a beautiful, but
D e a r T w e n t y - t w e n t y - o n e,
How do you write a letter to a year, such as you were?
People were always talking about how crazy 2020 was, and I won't deny falling into that trap. 2020 was nuts, not gonna lie. But, wow, 2021, you. You were a lot to take in.
Where do I even begin?
You started out great. You came along, and I was at the beach along with my sister and the aunts. We had booked a beach house for four nights, so we spent five lovely days there just doing nothing. It was a reset trip. A "time-out" before diving into the year. And it was needed.
"We started the new year dancing to A Good Run of Bad Luck, so
whatever that means. Hahaha" (my diary. 01.01.21)
I was busy with work - cleaning most weekdays, and spending my days off at home doing things around the house, playing with my niece, hanging out with my parents and siblings, and spending Sunday mornings at church with the fam. We got a huge snow storm in February and ended up getting four feet of abnormally fluffy snow. Then came the ice.
"Another day snowed in. Though we haven't gotten any new snow.
But ice. Trees were falling down like crazy, nobody had power all
day. It was crazy. We huddled around the fire and played Trivial
Pursuit most the day." (my diary. 02.15.21)
I had my ups and downs, crying often. Most the year it felt like the world was spinning, spinning, and wouldn't stop no matter how much I begged it to. So many nights I cried myself to sleep and wondered if God knew what He was doing. So many prayers begging God to take my pain, my fears, my anxiety. So many prayers begging Him to take it all out of my hands. Because the weight of it all was crushing me. I've always been told I looked at the world through rose colored glasses. And that's how I've always wanted to be. The girl who could always find something to laugh and smile about, no matter what life throws at her. I did an awful job of that this year. So many times I'd go for drives just to be alone with my music and cry. Death has been running rampage in 2021. It hit hard, and it hit close. Some of the people who have Gone on Before this year I knew well, and some I didn't. But it all hurt. I lost a cousin in July. Dear, fourteen-year-old, Abigail Rose went Home in the night, and left us all feeling lost.
"I hate the past tense words. Because it means she's actually
gone. And we have to go on without her. If this hurts this much
for me, how must Clarissa and Joey be feeling. I've done a lot
of crying in the past week. I haven't really slept at all."
(my diary. 07.20.21)
Grief is hard. It always is, it doesn't matter when or how it hits. And it looks different for everyone. Abi wasn't the only loved one we lost this year. One of my mom's best friends passed away only a few days after Thanksgiving. It was devastating, if I'm honest.
"This can't be real. I keep seeing her smile in my mind. And
hearing her voice. And I hate knowing that'll fade with time.
It won't be so clear. I don't understand why this happened."
(my diary. 11.29.21)
The last few months of 2021 have been hard. It's been hard to get excited for Christmas. But I've gone through the motions the best I've been able to. We got our tree the day after Susie's funeral and have all in all tried to make the best of this time of year. Christmas parties, Christmas music, Christmas movies, light and greenery all over the house. And now, I'm trying to look back on the year and remember the good. Because God has not forsaken us. He's been there all along, blessing my year even when I didn't think it possible.
In April my dear cousin and best friend got married in Montana, and I stood in the wedding. The trip there was short and absolutely crazy-busy, but such a blessed time. I enjoyed running wedding errands with Kirsten, spending time together before she became a married woman. Mrs. Goodrick. It's still so weird for me to think she's actually married. I had really missed her since she moved to Montana, so that time together was treasured. And then, after the wedding I really enjoyed our time at our aunt and uncle's rental house, laughing and talking with sisters and cousins. I was exhausted by the end of that trip, but it was so worth it. I stood beside by best friend while she said "I do" and started her new life with her husband. I'm so glad I got to do that.
"I don't know what the rest of the year will bring, but I
do know that God's got it. He's already there."
(my diary. 03.27.21)
Also in April, I got to meet my cousin's girlfriend and had a lovely weekend hanging out with them and was sad when their visit ended. But didn't have long to dwell on it because before I knew it, I was flying off on another adventure. I flew to New Hampshire with my sisters, bro-in-law, and niece. We spent two weeks there, with family. I, along with my sister, stayed at our grandparents wonderful house for what we didn't know would be our last time. While we were playing video games in the basement with cousins, making food in the kitchen, and visiting in the living room, we had no idea that Grandpa and Grandma would sell the house and move out before the year's end. I'm glad we didn't know. Because we got to just enjoy our time there without being sad about never going back. (though part of me wishes I got to say goodbye to the last link to my childhood. part of me died inside when I heard the house was no longer going to be in my life) That trip turned out to be my favorite. Over the past 7 years I have visited my grandparents five times, so that's saying a lot. Longboarding, coffees, ice cream, late night chats... and by the time we got home, it was May.
A dear friend and cousin (from NH) visited us not long after we got home, and we had a wonderful time with her before she left to Alaska for the summer. And then, we decided (extremely last minute) to go to the campout our church always has every Memorial Day. I drove my sisters and I up there, and it was my first time driving through the city. Crazy, because I drove through there so many times this year. We only stayed at the campout one night, but it was a good time.
May and June flew by with nothing worth noting, but in July my world changed forever. For that was when my darling cousin, Abi went Home. (as I've already said) Though I hadn't seen her in a few years, her passing left me world shattered. And the weeks so come were hard. But God seen me through, and it was because of those hard weeks that I felt the need to go to my cousin's wedding in South Dakota. At the end of July, I ended up going to a wedding seven hours away from our home, along with my sister and brother. Though we were all going through tough times, that sibling trip is one of my favorite memories of you, 2021. And it was seeing my cousin at that wedding that really made me want to be at his.
So, near the end of August, headed out to a state I'd never been to before, where I knew nobody. I really had no idea what to expect from this trip, but something in me said my world was about to change, and this time for the better. It still blows my mind to think what a difference just a few days can make. God was working in my life and I had no idea what He was doing. But he brought me to South Dakota, where I found the dearest friend in the world, and He pulled me from the pit I had been in ever since that day in July. On top of grief, I was struggling to believe anyone could ever love me. I was struggling with how "friendless" I had been. (I am so beyond thankful for the friends who have always been there for me. I, in no way, want them to think I have not noticed all they've done for me. This is just how I'd been feeling) I don't even know how it happened - one day I was scared to death of everyone in South Dakota, and the next I wanted those girls to be a part of my life forever. The wedding was beautiful and the trip was so beyond blessed. I even got to connect with an old friend, and that was sooo needed. It's like God was telling me that I was very much loveable. (would it be weird for me to say that God is sweet?) We only spent four days there in South Dakota, but I left there with a light heart, a new friend (plus her darling sisters), and a rekindled friendship. I left there with the song Brand New playing in my mind.
"I feel like for the first time in a long time, I am not afraid"
(oh where has that brand new feeling gone?)
"Oh my, so much emotions. My heart is so full - it burst.
I have found a true friend who I hope will be there forever.
So much laughter. So many tears. So many thoughts. It's
after midnight and my heart is... full. I don't know any other
way to say it." (my diary. 08.29.21)
Back at home, I dove back into life, but now with a friend to talk to. Those first few weeks of getting to know Brynna more was such fun. Our text conversations are still so dear to me, and I go back and read them often. September came and life moved on. Janeya stopped by on her way home from Alaska, and it was so nice to get caught up with her. I think it was during this time that I was the happiest I had been in a long time. Life was just so good, even though things were still going wrong at times - I guess I was in a place where they were able to just slide off my shoulders.
Soon I was planning yet another trip to South Dakota, but this time just to visit Brynna. On October 14th I turned 22, and the next day we headed out to South Dakota. This time I traveled with my sisters, brother, and a couple West cousins. That trip was so good. It felt so good to hug Brynna and her sisters again. It felt good to have an entire week to laugh and talk and go on adventures and sit "on each others heads". And goodbye was so hard. We hugged and cried and hugged and cried some more. But I wouldn't have missed that trip for the world. Even though it seems like I've just been muddling through ever since. While on our trip, I started to cough, and I still am - though it is much, much better.
And only a few days after Thanksgiving, my mom's friend went Home. Like I've already said, the last couple months of 2021 have been hard. But there's been one light - Gideon Karl. My darling nephew, who made me an auntie two times over. He was born on December 10th, bringing sunshine to our very gray world. And Kate. She's two now and just as much of a joy. I am so blessed to be their auntie.
And now we're here. Ending yet another hard year.
I'm not sure how to end this. How to say goodbye. I'd like to say 2021 has been good to me, but it hasn't. But you know who has been? God has been so good to me this year. And He's still got this.
"And as they sang, the fear and the suffering of the long
winter seemed to rise like a dark cloud and float away on
the music. Spring had come. The sun was shining warm, the
winds were soft, and the green grass growing."
(Laura Ingalls Wilder. The Long Winter)
G O O D B Y E 2 0 2 1,
I'm just doing the best I can
I'm just living the life I have
I'm confused but I'm fine with that
The beauty will outweigh the pain
(Reasons to Stay. Kate Vogel)
S O N G S T H A T G O T M E T H R O U G H :
(linked so you can listen and get to know my year in songs)
H a p p y N e w Y e a r!