This year--2011--has been really hard. I have lost. I have felt pain. A lot of it. People and pets have died. Good friends are experiencing illness. My town was half destroyed by a tornado and many lost their lives. My dad's heart condition isn't great. Etc. Etc. Etc. The list could go on and on. So, the odds of me experiencing pain and loss in 2012 are pretty damn good.
This last week and a half has been pretty devastating on its own. A family member died. A friend was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Another family member may be diagnosed with cancer (added to the two who already have it). My mom is having some issues, too, and while there isn't any reason to think that the issues are serious or life threatening, well, I am tense. I have gone through so much loss and watched so many people get sick that each time I hear even the supposition that something is wrong, I freak out. I am so tired--tired of watching, losing people, feeling like I can't breathe. I am sick of it. But there isn't anything I can do to stop it. Each time I lose it, I keep reminding myself that people have been through much worse than I have. I try to remind myself of holocaust survivors and how many of them lost entire families and suffered untold torturing ordeals. And, yes. I know that nothing I am going through even remotely compares to that. It is just a testament to the amazing strength of the human spirit and it inspires me.
The only bright moment in this whole "vacation" has been a reading experience. During the break, I have been reading the Hunger Games trilogy. I highly recommend it. I love Katniss, and she is a character that is giving me a sense of strength right now.
I know these books are written for teens, but they are so full of ideas and everything wonderful about literature. A friend who works at Books-A-Million recommended them to me, and I am forever grateful...because they really are some of what has made this break bearable.
As for The Hunger Games:
I have to say that most of the way through this book I was only mildly impressed. Yes, I kept reading because the events are like a horrible accident that you can't pull your eyes away from, but with the exception of a few moments...well, I could take it or leave it. I wasn't dying to find out what happened next or anything...UNTIL I READ THE LAST FEW CHAPTERS. Wow. The last bit made me love it and made me want to read the second book.
I won't spoil the plot for you. You can get a great idea of what is taking place by reading the back of the book or inside jacket description. But...WOW.
The second book in the trilogy is Catching Fire:
The goal of the Hunger Games is to survive...much like life...and surviving does not mean collapsing into despair, no matter how much I may want to do that sometimes. So, I am leaving the pity party I am enduring at the moment and going to list a few things that were good about 2011:
1. My family and I spent another year together. We have laughed more than we have cried.
2. I got a job. This is no small thing in our world today. I am so grateful to be working for people I respect and like, and I am relieved to be in a job that makes me excited.
3. I survived a tornado. My friends and family survived. So many didn't. I have a roof over my head, clothes, and food.
4. I made significant progress on my dissertation.
5. I wrote another published article.
6. I read lots of really wonderful books.
7. I met wonderful new friends--readers of this blog and friends on Twitter, especially. It has been a lot of fun!
8. I traveled to Myrtle Beach. Though I was sick as a dog for most of it, I still managed to successfully deliver a conference paper.
9. I have been able to spend a lot of time with really wonderful friends.
10. I am still breathing.
But the most joyous event of 2011? The birth of Baby Mylee, of course. Here's to the new trio!