Goodbye, 2018

I haven’t celebrated New Year’s Eve in a long, loooooonnnnnggg time. I can only recall a time or two when it was even fun, those alcohol-fueled nights when the headache and hazy morning to follow seemed worth it somehow.

Now it passes with little more than a shrug. My husband works on NYE and early on New Year’s Day, so he spends it sleeping, while I stay up comforting my dogs during the fireworks. Alvaro’s from Chile, and the one tradition we do follow is eating lentils to bring prosperity in the coming year; although that should be done at midnight, we save it for New Year’s Day.

I’ve never made resolutions, but the end of the year forces reflection upon us whether we like it or not. And 2018 truly was the best of times, the worst of times for me. I suddenly lost vision in one eye early in January, which set me off on a long journey that included relapses and MRIs, a spinal tap, tests and more tests before finally being diagnosed with MS. That was followed by learning how to live with MS, to take this thing that was all-consuming for the first two-thirds of the year and make it as small and unobtrusive as possible after that. I intend to be more successful in minimizing MS’s presence in my life in the year to come.

Despite the challenges and anguish it held, 2018 also helped me better appreciate big things, like my relationships with my most beloved people, and the smallest things, like being able to drive my car. After having that ability taken away for a period of time due to a relapse, I’ve felt the joy of a 16-year-old when getting behind the wheel since. There are days when I don’t feel like going for my walk, but once I’m out by the water, even when it is bitterly, painfully cold, I am grateful for every step, aware of how far I’ve finally come after months of work, my legs steadier and less numb even at the end of a longer stretch. Yesterday was one such day. I went walking with Alvaro and Maggie, and we stopped often to watch formations of Canadian geese flying overhead, their bellies glowing orange as they reflected the setting sun. There was no need to hurry, to do anything more than take it all in. I’m taking it all in more than ever now, and that has come with innumerable gifts.

So hello, 2019. You’ll hold first-year MS “anniversaries” I don’t care to mark, but then they’ll be behind me, getting smaller in the rear-view. What else you’ll hold is a mystery, which represents the hope in the promise of every new year.

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