Two days ago I googled ‘How to spend NYE alone’. It felt like a courageous thing to do on some level at the time. I have never spent New Year’s Eve alone. I have always kind of resented it, and my favourite way to spend it has usually been in front of a huge bonfire with close friends, far away from any sort of bar scene or fanciness. Everyone seemed busy this year, or they had plans with their kids, and mine were scheduled to be with their Dad. So there it was. How would I spend this night on my own, and find a way to mark it somehow? It’s not like I don’t spend almost every night on my own; I’m completely used to that. It’s just that I usually find a way to be with friends on this particular night of the year.
There was a fairly sad list of ideas. Spend time with your dog. (Check.) Read a book.(Check.) Do the things you never get time to do. (Like clean my house??) And then, Write a Gratitude List. That sounded like something worthwhile. So I started some notes.
They looked something like this:
There are so many reasons I am able to be grateful for these things. And there are so many things not on the list. I was able to do things with my time because people helped me out. They mowed my lawn, took care of my dog, drove for me when I couldn’t, appeared at my side when I needed to rant. Which, sometimes, I do.
Making this list of monthly reasons for gratitude made me think about the passage of time, and how sometimes over the past two years time has crawled relentlessly slowly, and I have watched time go by, sitting on my couch forgetting to breathe, and coming out of my revery feeling as though hours must have gone by and realizing it had only been minutes, agonizingly empty time that I wanted to fill but couldn’t. There have been other periods of time, like this fall, when I jumped and realized the month of September had passed, and blinked and was at the end of October, and then it was almost Christmas, and I found it difficult to keep up.
Through all of these passages of time there is the constant recognition of how far past surgery I am. The months that go by slowly make me certain I’ll never make it to that magical five year mark. The months that speed by like the landscape beside a train make me feel like I’m not necessarily using my moments mindfully, like I would like to, like I’m missing so much of what I’m supposed to be seeing, and at the same time provide me with some relief. Whew. Three months closer to the two year mark, after which point the chances of recurrence reduce significantly. This is part of the reality of post-cancer treatment. And so it goes.
My parents just celebrated 44 years of marriage, and just days afterward, my sister and her husband celebrated their 9th anniversary. Occasions like these swim by me, and I can’t help but do the math: The likelihood of me ever celebrating 44 years with someone is slim to none. If I got married tomorrow, I would have to live until 86 to see that happen. Not likely. 9? Even that seems like a stretch to me. But who knows? Although I have been told that my ‘type’ is ‘rare like Dalai Lama’, I still like to think it’ll happen. In the meantime, while I’m waiting to meet that person I may get to spend a few years with, I am going to consciously take advantage of the here and now. I’ve written my gratitude list for the year. Now I’m going to sit down for a few minutes and write a list of goals for this year. They will be all over the map. Some might take me to different places on a map. And if I am given time to work towards these goals, and if I can attain even a few of them, there will be another gratitude list on the agenda for next year. Here’s hoping.
Back to googling ‘How to spend NYE alone’. I was invited, for the record, over the past few days, to a few get-togethers, and for that I am thankful as well. I also love that I am friends with people who are just throwing something together at the last minute. As it turns out, my BFF called me this morning, saying her son had been invited to a last-minute sleepover, and so she was free if I wanted to do something. I have decided to split my evening in two. One, cook purposefully for myself and write. I find if I leave these thoughts simmer too long they burn down to nothing and disappear.
Two, go and spend a quiet evening playing cards and drinking wine with my best friend. There are many, many evenings spent alone. Tonight doesn’t need to be one of them.