I framed last year’s New Year’s post with the notion of the competing forces of joy and sadness, hope and despair, and guilt and acceptance—so often, it seems like the most incredible and most difficult experiences happen at the same time. I knew going into 2013 that it would be an important year in many respects—my book was slated to come out in April and there would be a lot of events around that, I was teaching an especially heavy course load, and more than any of that, we were watching my father deteriorate and hoping he would undergo a kidney transplant in time to save his life.
So while I knew 2013 had the potential to be a big year in many respects, I couldn’t have predicted just how intense it would be—because even the best things can be incredibly draining, and when so many huge, life-altering things happen at the same time, regardless of how positive some of them are, it is still just intense.
I didn’t know I’d watch my father’s life be saved twice, once through an incredible living donor kidney transplant last spring, and just when we thought we could exhale, a completely unexpected triple bypass this fall. I didn’t know both my parents would end up having surgery at the same time and that we’d spend weeks shuttling between different hospitals and rehabs.
I hoped I’d have a lot of publicity for the book, but I couldn’t have predicted that I’d appear on Fresh Air with Terry Gross or publish an Op-Ed on gender and pain in the NYT, goals of mine I never thought were entirely realistic. (And as an example of just how concurrent everything really was, my Op-Ed came out the very same week of the kidney transplant—I picked up my first copy en route to visit my Dad.)
Some of my Boston-area book readings took place the week the Boston Marathon bombing and manhunt took over my beloved city, which was also the last week of classes, and several of my students had been medical volunteers at the finish line and were going through a lot. All in all, it took me most of the summer to recover from the physically and emotionally punishing schedule (21-hour days were the norm) of the spring.
So personally and professionally, online and offline, it was a huge year, at times breathtaking and humbling in its richness and opportunity, as well as in its fear and in its losses.
I am grateful. I am starting to exhale. Slowly, I am finding my voice again. And after a year of so many big things, I am very much looking forward to a year of focusing on the smaller joys, and being more conscious and deliberate with my time and priorities.
So many things have changed since the beginning of 2013, and above all else, this is what I carry from into 2014: If you are in the right place, doing the things you’re meant to do and surrounded by the right people, everything will eventually work out—one step at a time.
Belated wishes for a happy and healthy new year!