I cried on New Years Eve with my feet in a lukewarm hot tub in Palm Springs, California. Alone in my plaid flannel pajamas, outside underneath the beaming stars. It was not the party vibe I was envisioning to kick off 2018.
My dad later asked, “What happened to unicorns and and finding the joy in what is?”
We were weeks deep into all the hard things that happen when E. catches any type of respiratory illness: vomiting multiple times a day, fussing at all hours, two or three rounds of bedding per night (see above, vomiting). Watching her retch and gag in that very specific way that breaks my heart a little bit every time. It’s not something you get used to, as a parent.
When there is a good chance that E. will end up back in the hospital, when we’re working all of the home treatments and nothing is making her better, it gets grim.
I’m more than okay with my child being different. Bring it on. But I don’t want her to suffer.
It’s a new year now, which hasn’t historically meant that much to me. As a Jew, I celebrate in the fall during Rosh Hashanah. So by the time we get to the end of the secular calendar a few months later it feels like wow, again with the festivities?
But since E. went on the feeding tube, I’m a sucker for any kind of hopeful sign or chance for transformation. Just last week my aunt, who converted to Catholicism, wanted to lay hands on E. and shout, “Praise the Lord”. I said, “Yeah, I’ll try anything.”
So happy new year. Let’s do the whole thing—the resolutions and the fresh hopes and the possibility of renewal. It could mean a positive change, both for our sweet girl who struggles in ways I never before knew were possible, and also for the greater good.
As long as we’re here, let’s make this year count. Most especially, let’s tell the truth, loud and proud. I hope we can turn it around for all of us, especially America. We’ve got to start being more real with each other. Alternative facts are so very 2017.
We have a family tradition of selecting a guiding word for each new year. I’ve written about it here before. It’s the abridged version of a resolution, more of an intention than a specific goal. A. started out with his word while we were in our rental car bumping Kidz Bop on the way to a dinner out: Walmart. That was it. He has never been to Walmart before in his life, but when pressed he told me, “They have toys”. When I asked him for an additional word (I don’t believe that a big box store is an ideal inspiration for the year), he replied, “Elegance.” He couldn’t elaborate on that choice, because he’s five and I’m not sure he knows what it means. But nevertheless, we’ll take it. Let’s make it an elegant year, and by elegant I mean chicken nuggets on a plate, not just a paper towel.
Cedar’s word was optimism, G-d bless him. I never knew that I was going to marry such a hot, capable nurse, and it turns out I did, even though it’s not his day job.
My pick: humor. Because sometimes, that’s the only thing that can save me. Even though using the word humor is actually extremely unfunny, like the time in (what I think was) statistics class when one of my fellow students was giving a presentation, droning on dryly, and then deadpanned, “I took a class on humor”. She continued to state the key points of what she had learned. She was not kidding, but I started to giggle and couldn’t stop.
I hope to laugh out loud as much a possible this year. I also hope to tell the gritty, and sometimes bright, shimmery truth, and to listen more than I talk. I hope to see my baby stay out of the hospital. I hope that come December when we return again for our annual trip to California, E. will be well enough to go swimming. Because her suits are off-the-hook cute, and that’s what I want to post on Instagram, at least some of the time—the fluffy, easy stuff. I recently posted a few things from our trip that I later described to my dear (and really quite hilarious) friend Debra as “a cry for help.” She quipped, “Emma, all social media is a cry for help.” A good point.
So in this new year, I hope for healing for us all. And please, if you will, post your word for the year below! More than anything, I’d like to be in this together.