January: I traveled to my beloved Switzerland, alone, on a writing journey. I met an online pal, Barbara, at a restaurant in Fribourg, traveled to Scuol on the eastern border, reconnected with my dear friend Fabiola in Montreux and met her husband Marc, took the train to sunny Lugano, and had plenty of inspiration for my just-released novel, Villa del Sol.
Plus, I was out of the country for the inauguration. Enough said.
February: Our neighbor and friend Tom died unexpectedly. His wife had died a couple of years earlier, and, as is the case for many men, the death of their spouse can send them reeling. Tom was never the same, and I’m glad he’s reunited with the love of his life. Rest peacefully, Tom.
March: My father-in-law turned 85. Although Ray’s health hadn’t been good for years, we didn’t realize at the time that it would be the last birthday we’d celebrate with him.
April: Jim turned 60! How could that be??? We celebrated at Spain, one of our favorite restaurants, where every meal is memorable. For this evening, it was paella for two (and plenty to bring home)!
May: At the end of May, my brother-in-law’s mother died at home in her sleep. Ginny lived to be 92 and, while a death at that age may not be totally unexpected, it was still a surprise. What a kind and gentle woman she was! She’s reunited with her beloved husband.
June: We had a little getaway to southern Vermont. Our trips are small and local, mostly, and we always take our little Bonnie with us. At eight, she’s never been kenneled, and never will be. Yes, it changes the dynamics of a trip sometimes, but we’re fine with that.
July: Besides adding yet another year, I spent some warm days writing. And I started my “Year of Living Minimally” series on this blog (it posts every Friday morning). I began taking stock of what we have (more than we need), and what can go (recycle, donate, toss out).
August: After the death of a colleague from skin cancer, Jim and I (finally) made our appointments for a full body skin check. He had a couple of little things burned off, and I earned a biopsy. It came back as malignant melanoma, so at the end of the month, I had the damned thing removed from the back of my thigh.
September: I’ve written about it here. While we were on a much-needed vacation to Prince Edward Island, Jim’s dad passed away unexpectedly. While his death defined the second half of September (and the rest of this year), my aunt Hildegard died as well. She was strongly opinionated and loved my uncle Carter, and I wish her everlasting rest and peace.
October: We spent the month working to clean out and prepare Ray’s house for sale, and as my “Year of Living Minimally” blog kept pace each week, some of Ray’s household items found their way back to our home. Jim and celebrated 23 years of marriage at the end of what was a long month.
November: I hate multi-tasking, but managed to do so this month. With the release of my seventh novel at the end of November, I pushed hard to finish the preparation that goes into a book release (especially as a self-published author). I featured 30 different Rhode Island authors here on this blog, and continued to donate, recycle, and toss out.
December: As the month winds down, so does this year. I’m just as happy to see it go. By the time this post publishes, we’ll be preparing to close on the sale of my father-in-law’s house (warm wishes to the young family who will breathe new life into it). I’ll have my three-month follow-up visit to the skin doctor. We’ll spend a very quiet Christmas (Jim is working, I’ll be with my sisters and brother-in-law, and we’ll be mindful that both Ray and Ginny are missing).
This year has been difficult, in many ways. Some are in deep despair, and my heart hurts for you. Because hope is the light. And if you have children, or grandchildren, that’s where you find your hope, your light. It’s the reason people have kids!
Children = future = hope. Look at this little munchkin – my cousin Cindy became a grandmother this year when her daughter Caitlin gave birth to Darius Michael. I know many of you shared the same joys, and my heart is hopeful.