We’re two weeks into the new year and I couldn’t bring myself to write one of those heartfelt “I had an amazing 2017 and here’s to greater adventures” posts. As much as I tried to recall all the great moments in 2017, the constant news of death – death of my grand aunt, death of quite a few friend’s parents, death of people I’ve known since my days in SIBKL (that’s the church I grew up in) – it coloured 2017 in a way I’ve never experienced before.
There were times when I was fortunate enough to be physically present to share the painful burden of grief, and there were other times when all I could do was send strings of texts to friends at home telling them I was sorry.
I burst into tears by the River Aare as I sat down to read a friend’s eulogy. I cried by the stairway outside our office while on the phone with another friend as we both realised the permanence of death and the fragility of life. I watched friends hold back tears too many times last year to ignore it.
Death was evident in 2017.
My grandaunt’s funeral, the other lady who raised my father and his sisters, was the first death I had been home to witness. From the news of her death, to the preparations of the service, to the loud sobs of my aunt, to the moment they put the casket into the back of the van with my aunt whispering loudly through her tears how much she loved her mother, to the bus ride to the burial site, to the emptiness of our hymns, to the pastor’s sweet voice as she said the final prayers, to the clunkiness of lowering my grandaunt into the dirt, to throwing a handful of soil over her casket along with our flowers, through tears and laughter as I learned about her quirks and amazing cooking from my dad and aunties over lunch, through the quietness of my parents in the car as we headed home.
And then the texts poured in. One by one, people who loved the people I love were returning to dirt, without too much warning either. While a few were lucky enough to share the final moments, most of them weren’t.
2017 taught me the value of life, not just my own but also of the people around me. YOLO yes, but that also applies to everyone I care about deeply.
So what do I want for 2018? I just want to appreciate my life and the lives of the people I love. It might not be poetic or beautifully written, but it’s honestly what I want. I want to spend more time with my parents, to make sure they know they’re loved by their two daughters no matter how much we tend to bicker. I want my sister to know she’s a dufus but my favourite kind. I want my friends to know we’ll grow old together.
And I want to keep pushing myself to explore further, deeper and wider. Physically, emotionally, mentally, academically. I want to be scared and sad and make it to the other side of those things. I want to be bigger in my loving, in my kindness, in my depth as a person. I want to grow strong and beautiful and, above all, to be the best fucking version of myself at all times, warts, scars, blisters and wrinkles included.