In days of old, my New Year’s resolutions were predictable: exercise more, eat less and tame my unruly finances.
But as 2017 dawns, rather than making future promises — which are quickly broken — I’m reflecting on the past year’s lessons.
Let’s start with the fact that it was definitely the worst year of my entire life — since my husband was painfully absent from all the big events.
Somehow, Valentine’s Day, his birthday, my birthday, our anniversary — you get the point — became moments to endure rather than celebrate.
Still, I learned you can do things you never dreamed possible — when it comes to survival.
I’m not talking about existing in the wilderness on berries and rainwater — but the ordinary stuff you master when your life turns upside down.
In my case, that meant cooking a decent pork chop, pan-frying chicken and grilling asparagus — which were the year’s big accomplishments.
You see, my late husband was a gourmet chef, who savored slicing, sauteing and seasoning — while yours truly was the proverbial bottle washer.
Now that he’s gone, I tried to talk the cat — and the hamster — into cleaning up after supper, but they’ve stubbornly refused.
In 2016, I also discovered you must monitor your interior dialogue — the things you automatically say to yourself.
Sometimes I told myself, “This is impossible — I can’t live without him” and other days, “Oh, God, I just want to die!”
Now I’m trying to nip these thoughts in the bud — and replace them with, “You’re doing the best you can — I’m proud of you!”
It also helps to write on a sticky note: “Whatever God wills for me, I’ll accept with as much grace as possible.”
Daily Mass became a lovely, grace-filled haven that kept me relatively sane last year.
Listening each day to an Old Testament story, psalm, epistle and Gospel reading — and receiving Holy Communion — connected me to the love that never falters.
Many readers who lost beloved family members sent me heart-wrenching emails — and although they probably didn’t realize this, as I shared advice — and prayers — I discovered an answer to the nagging question, “Why am I still here, Lord?”
A friend from church — who lost her adult daughter to cancer — inspired me, as she ministered to another family whose grown son recently died.
Through her example, I began to see that helping others can be a path to healing.
When the days grew shorter, I drove in the pitch dark, each Wednesday evening, to the brightly lit First Baptist Church in Avondale Estates — where I rehearsed with the Chancel Choir for its yearly Lessons and Carols Christmas performance.
There, I discovered that singing also promotes healing — especially when the singers are kind and welcoming — and the repertoire features songs celebrating God’s undying love.
Truth be told, I’m relieved to say goodbye to 2016, but also grateful for the lessons learned — and as January peeks above the horizon, there’s a tiny tendril of hope in my heart.
Maybe in 2017, God will send me more people to help and beautiful songs to sing. Maybe I’ll laugh more and cry less — and learn how to grill a steak and fry a fish.
And, who knows — perhaps the cat will finally agree to clean up after supper and the hamster will pitch in.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.
Lorraine Murray’s latest cozy, fun-filled mystery is “Death Dons a Mask,” the third in her Francesca Bibbo series. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.