It’s all well and good for everyone else. You know, the ones Intagramming their way to a #newyearnewme as they down a protein shake after finishing a Joe Wicks workout (#2017goals anyone?) But how are you meant to feel about the new year when someone you love has cancer?
As a carer it can sometimes feel as if your life is going in slow motion while the rest of your friends race ahead on fast forward. If you’ve recently lost someone you love, it can feel as if life is on a permanent pause.
When I was looking after mum, as December slipped into January, I felt confused. Part of me was so ready for a fresh start and to leave behind the heartache and hurt of the previous twelve months. But then there was the other part of me that knew the coming year wouldn’t be all happiness and high spirits as nobody knew how mum’s cancer would play out.
That new year would mark the start of more tough times and uncertainty so what was I meant to do? Run faithfully into the coming months and trust that it would all work out, or hang on to the last year kicking and screaming just in case things got worse? It was a similar story when the new year rolled around, just a few months after my dad died. All I could think was - Will I be able to make it through the coming year when it’s a miracle I only just survived the last?
If you feel as though promising yourself 2017 will be full of good times is a little too much to ask, why not try looking out for the good moments, however brief they may be?
Take for example the NYE that I had written off as a disaster because mum was recovering from her latest round of treatment and I had picked up a virus …
I fell asleep in a co-codamol haze at 8:30pm but randomly woke up a few minutes before midnight and rushed downstairs to see in the new year by mum’s side. And I’m so glad I did because it felt as if my mind took a step back from my body, looked down on the situation, realised how special it was and made an extra effort to remember how everything looked, felt, sounded and smelled. I laid down next to mum on her bed, holding her hand in mine, my head resting on her chest, rising and falling with her breath, nightie smelling of her favourite perfume. I pulled the blinds back so we could see the families setting off fireworks on the green outside our house and the TV was buzzing with the celebrations in London. The banging and explosions of the fireworks numbed everything for a few seconds - but they were seconds that seemed to pass in slow motion. We were safe, together, in contented silence, concentrating on nothing but the fireworks and how pretty they looked. As I gave mum a kiss to wish her a Happy New Year, I could sense she was perfectly at peace in that moment. There was no fuss, no dressing up, no crazy cocktails - just a magical moment in time when everything was ok - even if just for a few seconds.
If you’re heading into 2017 knowing that hard times await you, I hope that each day you find a mini magical moment to keep you going.