When you first arrived in a swirl of snowy icicles I welcomed you with hopeful anticipation. There was so much to look forward to. Remember?
I told you my wish. How I hoped my family would grow and learn and keep believing in our dreams. That we would share goodness and kindness and joy with others. And we would try our best to approach your year with humor and graciousness, even when things became difficult.
So thank you 2016 for accommodating my wishes because as you now depart, once again in a whirling blasted breeze of ice, all of those things have come true. But it hasn’t been easy, especially since there have been formidable challenges, wall-like obstacles and we’ve even lost a few friends along the way.
You’d probably agree that in my writing life, things went up and down. On the downside, I didn’t sell a book in your year. But on the upside, I had an agent working tirelessly on my behalf, and for that I am profoundly grateful.
Though, in the capriciousness of your year I had moments of pure rewriting dread. Receiving feedback on stories, being told they’re not ready, shaking off the self-doubt, and continuing on with grace and dignity is not easy.
But thankfully, as I say goodbye to you 2016, the dream is still alive. In the fall of your whirlwind year, one of my short stories was accepted to be part of the Smithsonian Institute’s Water Way exhibition in our new library. It was posted for several months and as the traveling exhibit moved on to its next destination, there was a nice reception in honor of the occasion.
My mom and I at the exhibit and Mom’s illustrations to go along with my story, “Pop’s Ocean.”
You also brought some unexpected surprises. My parents left behind their little RV in the sunny west coast and bought a place in a senior park here in the northwest. This development changed the dynamics of our family life for the better. During the springy springtime of your year we calked and painted and made their new place beautiful.
They bought the trailer for only nine thousand dollars, but now it looks like a million bucks!
And you gave us a wedding to look forward to. Remember when Melissa and Victor got married in the Rose Garden, her grandfather officiating? So pretty.
Last of all, my dear 2016, we leave your year behind along with a few of our treasured friends. Ray Harriman was a mentor to both my husband and I, giving our life direction when we needed it the most. A good man. A spiritual man. The strength of his conviction will fortify us during the years to come. We’ll miss him sorely.
Also, tragically you took our friend McCall Jones. Only twenty years old. Hiking with his friends near a rocky cliff in Hawaii, he fell into the ocean, swept away by the roiling waters. His body was spotted by a rescue helicopter, but McCall was unable to be recovered. We are deeply saddened by this horrific accident. At his funeral his mom said, “McCall loved you.” Those words I will cherish always.
My last parting words to you are true. You only promised that days and months would go by, and it was up to me to make them worthwhile. I hope I did.
But for now, I’ll end this letter wishing you well with the hopeful expectation that 2017 will be kind to us all.
Nessa B. Schwarz