For all the sifting I did through my parents’ things after they died, I did not find one indication they ever made New Year’s resolutions, but somehow the practice caught on with me.
They did create goals from time to time and posted inspirational quotes and phrases. I’m more intentional. I divided my 2019 goals into five categories: Book & Career, Income, Health, Home and Spiritual.
I don’t treat my resolutions or goals like masters with a whip, but I allow them to nudge me into the places I want to be. They are guides.
While the calendar gives us a fresh start on our lives each year, there are also sign posts that redirect us to create a new us. One of those sign posts is loss.
Grief remakes us. We may become more aware of mortality and aim to spend more quality time with the loved ones who remain, or we may become too afraid to hurt again and pull away. We may bitterly complain to God about suffering and death, or we may allow that season to fade into the perspective that our Creator cares about our pain even when we don’t understand his methods.
Grief doesn’t follow a calendar, however. It’s a journey without a map. Others may coach us. We may read about the stages of grief, but in the end, each journey is individual and unique. We hope to emerge better people, people who bring something of value out of the tragedy of death.
I got comfortable for a while in my grief. I’d go to my parents’ home, sift through their things, cry or laugh. Talk to them. Talk to God. Journal my thoughts. Now without my childhood home, I find my grief seeping into many avenues of my life. I suppose in some ways I had compartmentalized grief. I had an actual place to mourn. I was intentional with my grief. Now without the house, my grief is off its leash.
And so I stand at the beginning of a new year with goals – restart the writing of my memoir, go on the keto diet for a while, refurbish my kitchen and reorganize my home, give anxiety to God.
But in between the lines are struggles with questions about how to live in 2019: How do I manage chronic fatigue and accomplish my dreams? How do I balance responsibilities to husband and home and career? How do I assist beloveds tied to dysfunctional families that serve as adversaries to healthy processes?
My grief runs like a river through the issues of my heart, and I find myself yearning for my mother.
I always went to my mother with my plans. I sought her wisdom, or at least her ear. Both independent minded, we didn’t always agree, but I always knew she had my interests at heart.
This summer will mark 10 years since her death. For many of the first years, my life was planted firmly navigating her death and that of my dad three years earlier. Surrounded by their things, I “heard” their voices speak to the circumstances of my life. I think I yearn for her “voice” now because that season is over. I can’t drive over to her home, go through her papers and find some kind of perspective or wisdom that always miraculously spoke to the angst of the moment.
So where am I to turn? Where are we to turn for the wisdom of our mothers?
Look to memories. Despite the absence of a regular dosage of old cards, letters or perspective from other belongings, I find my mind going back to snippets of memory. Of things she spoke in the past to guide me into the future. Interestingly, they pop into my mind at appropriate times.
Look to yourself. We don’t feel we’ve got what it takes sometimes, but sometimes we need to trust our instincts. Our parents spent lots amount of time and energy raising us. Maybe what’s ahead is scary, new territory, but we’ve been building to this. We’ve got good stuff inside of us.
Look to God. Ultimately, God is the one with all the answers and all the wisdom. The Bible even says, if anyone lacks wisdom, let him ask God for it, and he will give it. To ask for wisdom, we must take up humility. It’s from that spot – the position of a child – that our Father provides for us.
My mother – who taught me at a young age that old “High Hopes” song about the ant and the rubber tree plant – believed in me. She trusted in God. And I think she hoped I’d remember the lessons she tried to teach me. I suspect if she were here now, she’d suggest I tap the three spots above for wisdom in 2019. I hate that she’s gone and I can’t turn to her, but she left behind all the things I’d need.
What is one of your New Year’s goals? Are you looking for guidance as you redirect your life in 2019? Is there some piece of wisdom you’ve already received that you can share here?
Copyright © 2019 by Toni Lepeska. All rights reserved. www.tonilepeska.com