New Year's Eve, 2011. So ends the hardest year of my life. I have thought long about what I wanted to say tonight, how to sum up this brutal year and send it out the door. So much loss, so much grief, not just for me and my family, but for my whole community. Many of my thoughts have been angry and defiant--There's the door, 2011. Don't let it hit you in the butt on the way out, and may we never see your likes again.
As good as it feels to say that, though, there is so much more to it. As the old song says, "Where there's a shadow, there's a light." Loss is just love turned inside out--you can't really have one without the other. We lost a son because, however briefly, we had a son. We hate fighting against poor health because we know very well what it is to enjoy good health. We grieved the time away from our daughter because we have a daughter who is so wonderful we hate being away from her. We mourned the loss of our wonderful South Elementary family because we were embraced by that family.
If we are still hurting, it is because we are still here. If there are things we have to fight against, it is because we still have enough hope to fight.
I would not wish the sorrows of this past year on anyone, and it is true to say I hope never to see the likes again. But just as a meal tastes even sweeter after a long hunger, so our hard times make the joys more deeply felt. I am amazed at this: How much richer the love between Mrs. Badger and me has grown. How miraculous it seems just to play with my daughter and watch her grow. How joyful it can be just to go for a walk in the mountains and breathe the sweet, free air. And what wonderful, priceless, loyal friends we have.
God continues to do his work, turning the horror and hardship for our good, just like he promised He would.
So, here's to you, 2011. There's the door. Friends, there's the door for you, too. Please use it often. We love you.
So, give a hand, my trusty friend, and here's a hand of mine
We'll take a cup of kindness yet for the days of auld lang syne.
Happy New Year, everyone. May the God of New Beginnings make it rich and beautiful, come what may.