2016 is over.
2016 is the worst year I have ever lived through. In the course of six months, I lost my only sibling and my father, and my husband was diagnosed with cancer.
This time of the year, I usually write a column about the best things of the preceding year. When considering that topic, my first thoughts were that I had nothing to be thankful for in 2016.
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I watched my husband endure a painful surgery from which he is still recovering. My father declined for months as my mother and I made tough decisions for his care and watched as he slipped further and further away.
And Eddie. My little brother, who I not only adored but worshiped. His loss fills me with so much pain that it is actually sometimes physical.
Adding to all that, I spent my days in between trying to ease the agony of my mother who lost her child and her husband in the space of three months.
I did what was necessary. I paid my parent’s bills, I planned funerals, I checked on my mama – all of which brought a lump to my throat because my brother should have been here to help me with those things.
When I wasn’t doing things I had to, the rest of the time, I was content to shut myself away from the world during much of last year. My husband ate Chick-fil-a at least four times a week and washed clothes while I, exhausted from the responsibilities of my family, sat on the couch and cried.
Crying is not something I have ever done a lot of in my life – and not something that I have admitted to freely when I did. Prior to 2016, crying for me involved going in the bathroom, running the water and sitting on the tub. Now I cry all over the place, where ever the memories or pain strike me.
I have felt incredible sadness this year – I have lost my brother, my father and, to be honest, my faith. I have not darkened the door of my church since the call came about Eddie. People have said, “I will be praying for you,” and I have smiled and thanked them, but in my heart I didn’t really care.
But when I look back on 2016, looking for something to be thankful for in a year of deep sorrow, the wonder of 2016 is that while I have suffered great pain and been a pain myself, there have been people who have stood by me, whether I wanted them to or not.
First, are the people of this newspaper. I have missed deadlines, forgotten assignments, not returned phone calls and pretty much been a terrible employee this past year. But my editors Sherrie Marshall and Randy Waters have picked up my slack and never once have I heard anything from them except sympathy for the events in my life.
My cousins have been beside me carrying me through my life. They have called, texted, emailed and visited. The words “anything you need, just call” mean a little more when the person saying it shares your blood. So, I have leaned on my cousins and let them do for me.
I have had a lot of friends and people from my church that have reached out to me – brought food, called, sent flowers. But after a while, people go back to their own lives and you are alone, with an empty refrigerator and your thoughts. If I have learned anything from the events of the last year, it is that people who are suffering do so long after the pot roast that you brought is gone. It is said that time heals all wounds, but nobody tells you how much time it will take.
So if you see Lori Chaloult somewhere, give her a hug. She has continued to remember me throughout this year, seeing me through every birthday, every holiday. Her words and strength have given me strength, even when I really didn’t want anything but weakness. Somehow, she knew, the days I was sad, the days I was ready to crawl in a hole. Somehow, she knew I needed to hear from someone. And while most days I am still mad at God, because of Lori’s continuous Christ-like witness, I know that my anger will eventually ease away.
We are given no promises in this life. My last words to my father were, “I love you Daddy,” and my last words to my brother were, “I love you.” I am lucky in that regard; I have no regrets about my last words on this Earth with my father and my brother. My advice is this: If you have a loved one that you are estranged with, that you need to forgive or ask for forgiveness, do it without delay. Tomorrow is not assured.
As 2016 has closed out, I have realized that there are things to be thankful for during the most horrible year in my life. My heart breaks because I loved and was loved, and love is never something to take for granted. My mother smiles again some now and my husband is recovering and the doctors are sure that the cancer is all gone. My children are happy and healthy. I’ve got friends and family who love me and are holding my hand. I believe that I will see my brother and father again and my anger at God for taking them from me cannot diminish my thankfulness that God sent his son Jesus Christ so that one day I can be reunited with my family.
Alline Kent can be contacted at 396-2467 or firstname.lastname@example.org.