Happy New Year!
Here's what I've done this time every year since I was in fourth grade or so: make resolutions. Here's what I'm not doing this year: make resolutions. At least not the ones I've made before.
I went to the gym this weekend and had to laugh. Even if I'd been living under a rock without any link to the outside world, I could have told you it was early January. The joint was jammed! Finding a parking space was more of a workout than my 60-minute Zumba class. This happens every winter as we all atone for too much holiday spirit (not to mention cookies, candy and every other indulgence). "Lose weight," "Eat less," "Exercise more." How long will these resolutions last? Ask me again in March or so. That's when it won't be so tough to find parking.
Resolutions aren't all bad, of course. Each new year brings the promise of a fresh start, which can be applied to everything from the size of our blue jeans to the state of our bedroom. (When we returned from our holiday trip to New York, I commented on all of the detritus unceremoniously dumped on my teenage daughter's floor. "What about your resolution to keep your room neat?" I asked. "I didn't make any resolutions," she replied. "I know," I told her, "I made them for you." Suffice it to say that negotiating her room right now would be about as tricky as finding a parking space at the gym.)
Parent-of-a-teen humor aside, I've resolved to reflect on more important things.
In mid-December, I received a Christmas card from an old friend who lives in Europe. I look forward to her card each year because in addition to sending a picture of her beautiful boys, she always includes an entertaining newsletter. I'm not being facetious in the least. Not only is she a great writer but her husband is a diplomat and their year often includes things like royal weddings. Real ones.
I opened the oversized envelope and was stunned to realize that the card and a brief heartfelt missive were sent by someone else. My friend had died.
This was not someone I saw often, but she was very dear to me. An agency client initially, she had become a good friend and we attended her wedding twenty years ago or so. (Her besotted husband had, famously, sent dozens and dozens of roses to her office after they first met on a vacation along with a series of postcards sent out of sequence that fit together into a love letter.) Over the years, we exchanged parenting tips and tales (you'd be surprised how similar those pushy PTA mothers are on both sides of the Atlantic), and we joked that if my daughter married one of her sons we'd get to see each other more often. She was incredibly supportive about my writing and it was with her urging and encouragement that I started Lovin' the Alien in 2011.
The last time I spoke to her was almost a year ago, on her birthday. And, while I'd thought of her many times over the past months, I was always too busy with something or other to reach out. My thinking was that I would wait for her annual newsletter and respond to it.
Sadly, I didn't get the chance.
My friend had everything going for her. She was beautiful, smart, talented, comfortable, happy, and loved. But, now she's gone, years too soon. It puts so much in perspective. And, I'm left with a feeling of, not guilt so much, but missed opportunity. Assuming she was healthy, assuming we were still (relatively) young, I missed time we might have shared. Most importantly, I missed letting her know how much I admired and appreciated her.
So, I will not waste the new year resolving to fit into a smaller size (that never works anyway). Instead, I'm going to reach out to the people I care about and find time to be with them, by phone, online or, hopefully, in-person. I want to make sure that I don't regret leaving anything else unsaid.
I think that sounds like a much better plan for the new year, don't you?
If you've enjoyed this post, I invite you to order the book Lovin' the Alien here.