The Extraordinariness of Ordinary Things

I’ve been invited to a New Year’s Eve party — nothing fancy, just pizza, salad, boxed wine, and sparkling cider. I’m looking forward to it with all the expectation as if it were a fancy dress ball because this will be my very first New Year’s Eve party. Even as I write these words, it doesn’t seem possible, but it’s true. In my entire life, I have never been to a New Year’s Eve party.

twists and turnsNew Year’s doesn’t meant that much to me. It’s a relatively arbitrary date, and mostly signifies nothing but a new calendar, which, I suppose, is something to celebrate. My new calendar has 365 blank squares, and there is the question of how I will use those squares. With notations of appointments and special days, of course. Perhaps with reminders of bills to pay and chores to do. But many of those squares will be blank. What will I do with those blank days? I can’t even begin to guess.

I know I will be leaving my father’s house, which has been both a place of refuge in my grief and a place of horror because of my schizophrenic brother and dying father. Although I have been thinking of this leaving for several years now, I still haven’t a clue what to do with my freedom. How does one choose where to go or what to do when there is no particular reason to be anywhere, no particular reason to do anything? (Well, there are dance classes here, and good friends, so those are important considerations, but I do not want to settle down, not here, not anywhere.)

But all that is yet to come. This is the last day of the old calendar, and for the first time ever I have the square filled in. New Year’s Eve party. 6:00pm.

Not only have I never gone to a New Year’s Eve party, I’ve seldom even stayed up to midnight to usher in the New Year, though for the past few years, ever since the death of my life mate/soul mate, I’ve made a point of toasting the brand new year with a crystal goblet of sparkling cider as a symbol of my commitment to living a full life.

Despite all my devastating losses, I am living fully. Well, partying fully, anyway. I’ve never gone to so many parties in such as short time as I did these past few weeks. Thanksgiving dinner, birthday party, pizza/taco party, Christmas party, Christmas Eve party, Christmas dinner, luncheon, three tea parties (those three I hosted).

And now a New Year’s Eve party.

It’s ironic when I think of it. I’ve spent the past couple of years dreaming of exotic and impossible adventures (impossible because they are beyond my physical capacities) in the hopes of finding transcendence or at least a new way of looking at life. Maybe, for me, transcendence will be found in the ordinary. My life has been counter to most people’s lives. I’ve lived a life of the heart and mind — loving profoundly, grieving deeply, reading profusely, thinking enormously — that the ordinary everyone else takes for granted is, for me . . . truly extraordinary.

Wishing you an extraordinary New Year’s Eve.

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Happy New Month’s Eve!

champagneWhen I looked at the day on my cell phone today and noticed it was the 31st, my first thought was, “New Years Eve, already?” It felt good thinking that this year was over, and that a new one would begin in just a few hours, and then the truth sunk in — this year would not be over for another eleven months.

This has not been a good year so far — not the worst by a very wide margin, but not good, either. It began inexplicably with tears, and grief has been with me most of the month. (In less than two months, it will be three years since the death of my life mate/soul mate, and that anniversary looms large on my emotional horizon.)

It’s not just the grief upsurge that has made this a hard month — there have been too many disappointments and setbacks for such a new year. Friendships have ended, a project with other authors has come to an ignoble conclusion, new hopes have not been realized, blog and book ratings have fallen. There have been some good things. For example, I was notified that Grief: The Great Yearning came in second place for a book award, but any pleasure in that recognition was destroyed when I got a follow-up email telling me I’d been demoted to third place. (I’m still reeling from that one. I’ve never heard of anyone being demoted before.)

I need a new start, and I’m going to make one. In a way, every day is the eve of a new year, but today is also the eve of a new month, which seems an auspicious time to begin. So, Happy New Month’s Eve! Wishing you a great new start and much happiness during the coming month.

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” All Bertram’s books are published by Second Wind Publishing. Connect with Pat on Google+

Waiting for the End of the Year

I’ve survived, celebrated, or ignored many New Year’s Eves in my life. Mostly ignored. A new year merely meant starting over with a clean unmarked calendar and remembering to use a new number when writing the date. For the rest, it didn’t matter. I dragged my old self into the new year, along with all my old problems and frustrations, griefs and hopes, so that there was nothing intrinsically different from one year to the next.

Last New Year’s Eve, the end of the worst year of my life, I toasted the upcoming new year. That was the first time in my life I ever ushered in a new year with any sort of ceremony, but I thought it was important to put on a good show for myself. I needed the symbolism of looking forward to the future, building hopes and creating dreams, finding reasons to live when I could barely find a reason to get up each day.

And now here I am, three hundred and sixty-five days later, waiting for this year to end. I’m not celebrating the end of this year or toasting the new one. I’m simply waiting.

I mentioned in a couple of previous posts this week how grief snuck up on me again. This year ends the first full calendar year since the death of my life mate/soul mate. I can no longer say, “He died last year.” Our shared life is now more remote than ever. And so I’ve been grieving the end of this year. And the end is almost upon me.

I have no sense of the future tonight. I only feel, deep in my soul, that this is the end of something. I’ll be staying up until midnight, holding on to this year as long as possible. And then? I don’t know. The end of something, if only a year, should presage the beginning of something else, shouldn’t it? But I have no plans. No plans to make plans. No plans to plan to make plans. I’m not being negative, I simply have no sense of the future, of what that future might bring.

Right now, tonight, I only feel that this year is ending, and I need to see this year to its very end.