Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

It's no secret that I've had a rough go of things over the past few months. It shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that this is a difficult time in my life; probably the hardest thing I've ever been through.

A number of holidays have passed since I've been sick. Veteran's Day, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas; I watched them all come and pass without saying anything particular to them. I wanted to, I meant to, even planned to, because holidays are important, but for some reason I didn't find the words.

It's always important to take time to appreciate the meaningful things in life. I'm sorry for having missed my opportunities when the occasions were upon us, but today is New Year's Eve, a day for reflection and looking forward, and I believe that in order to know where we're headed, we have to appreciate where we're coming from.

I was watching ESPN on Veteran's Day, and the anchors were talking about our soldiers and the sacrifices they make for our country each and every day. They were commenting on how ridiculous it is to use "wartime vocabulary" with regards to sports. Sports are just games, and though the players seemingly "battle" against one another for supremacy on the court or field, ice or what-have-you, an athlete's struggle is far different from the real wars being waged by our brave armed forces.

It made me think about the terms of my own battle, and how complicated it is. I am fighting (I feel secure in using that descriptor) an illness that my body created, unintentionally, yet one that nevertheless threatens my life. I wage my fight with the help of chemotherapy, a recipe of toxic drugs, which has, thus far, yielded amazing results. Unfortunately, the drugs introduce a new struggle between their effects on my body and my ability to recover from them, making me feel like the battleground of some internal chaos that leaves my insides burned and pillaged.

But I've never seen a real battlefield, not a live one, anyway, and I have the utmost respect for those who defend our country and our liberties with their lives. They are the men and women willing to make the ultimate sacrifices so that we may enjoy the way of life to which we've become accustomed, and for that they are true heroes.

Naturally, on Thanksgiving, I thought about the things in my life for which I am grateful. My friends and family came immediately to mind; like most people, I don't know what I'd ever do without them. I was appreciative of the deliciously robust meal, as I always am, but this year I was especially thankful that I was able to keep it all down.

Past all that, however, I had a hard time finding reasons to be thankful. I settled on the fact that despite my current conditions, I'm still fighting, and eventually I should be better, despite how challenging everything is right now. In other words, I'm thankful to still have a chance at a future, beyond all of this, regardless of the odds and probabilities with which I've been faced, presuming I can continue to persevere.

I've learned to appreciate all of the December holidays, because for all of their differences and the differences between the people who observe them, they bring people together in celebration. One day, I hope to see everyone celebrating together, accepting of our individual differences, eager to learn one another's values, and motivated by a common purpose, but for now I'll settle for people coming together in warmth and joy.

I also like presents, just like everyone else, so the December holidays are definitely where it's at.

Again, today is New Year's Eve. A brand new year is upon us. A brand new decade is about to begin. I'll spend the first few months undergoing treatment, but I'm hopeful that the second half of 2010 will be better than the year preceding it.

I'm grateful to have seen another year pass, and I've not forgotten the joys of this last year either. I know it hasn't all been bad, and I guess I've learned to value those precious moments more than I have in the past. That's why I'm so anxious to be out and living again, because I want a chance to appreciate things more than I used to; to see things through a brand new, brighter scope; to meet new people and let them change me, and to hopefully make a difference to them as well.

With each new year brings new opportunities, more chances to touch and be touched, to hold and be held, and to better ourselves so that we can make ourselves happy, because above all we must be happy with who we are when we're all alone. It's an ongoing process, in my opinion; an endless, ever-changing journey that will only offer new challenges as the circumstances in our lives continue to change, but it's a worthy purpose and a journey that I'll hopefully pledge to continue each new year.

And tonight, on the eve of the new year, we celebrate with friends and family, and may we forget for a while the fighting and sickness because holidays are meant to be celebrated. And I love a good celebration, in case you didn't know.

So Happy New Year! I wish everyone a safe and wonderful night, and a happy beginning to an unforgettable 2010.