It is with a mix of emotions that I say good bye to you. Without doubt you have been the hardest of all my years. You taught me a lot, you took from me a lot, and you are leaving me a far better person than you found me.
In your beginning, I started with promises. I have always enjoyed making promises to the New Year and 2009 will be no exception. I enjoyed keeping all but one of those promises to you, the exception being that I never did get to do a split. A silly ambition, I know, but one I wanted nonetheless.
I did keep my promises to you though, 2008. I promised to do a lot of nice things for people, and I feel I did that. Unfortunately, I did some really hurtful things to some people too, and it has helped me learn some extraordinarily powerful lessons. It helped me learn that for all the promises I made and kept, I didn't make the kind that are the most important- I didn't make any promise to be mindful. In the beginning, I had not developed a deep sense of mindfulness of others. My promises were all self-serving for the most part- ride a lot of miles, get published, lose weight. I didn't think of a deeper spiritual place, I wasn't selfless.
In your year, my 33rd, I grew more than I have ever grown before. I sat in front of a doctor and I heard the word cancer. It's pretty much the only word I heard that day, every other utterance is a blur. And I cried. I cried deep, choking, tears for literally months on end. Sometimes I cried for entire days. I don't mean that in a poetic way either. I cried for the hurt I caused, I cried for the friends I lost, I cried for myself and my body, I cried for my son, for my mother on her knees before me telling me she wished she could take my cancer. But I also cried for joy. I cried for the love that was given to me by so many people who knew I was hurting. I cried out of a grateful heart to the doctors and nurses and healers who comforted me and showered me with kindness. I cried when I heard the word benign. I'm crying now.
I am deeply grateful for all the lessons you gave me. You taught me that I possess strength deeper than I ever imagined, and more importantly how to farm that strength- how to plant seeds of goodness that grow into positivity. You gave me my religion this year which helps me everyday to understand the world and to be present.
As I reflect back on this year, I see major trials. Not even major, they were gargantuan. WERE. They're not anymore. And so into 2009 I carry a sense of peacefulness and happiness knowing that it's going to be a good year. It can't not be, I won't allow it.
I am looking forward to 2009. I am hoping that it will be filled with health for myself and my loved ones. I am hoping it will be filled with healing- healing of hearts, healing of friendships with people I still deeply miss, and many many miles of safe and fun bike riding.
Thank you 2008. Now go away.