In about 45 minutes 2013 will fade into the past and 2014 will take its place. The number just keeps climbing, reaching further into realm of science fiction. Be that as it may, this has been one schizophrenic year. It started with stress, fear, uncertainty, and hard decisions, but ended with celebrations and a hopeful outlook. Even so, I’m glad to see it go.
This time last year Laura had just finished the worst of the chemotherapy, and it seemed that her cancer had not really improved. We were faced with decisions about surgery, further treatments, etc. Life was slowly getting back to normal as the effects of the chemo abated.
I was in the midst of a massive project at work, investing lots of extra hours to try to bring our district up to the most modern tech system possible. The project was already months behind because the contractor we hired to do the work had undergone a buy-out and scheduling had gotten all messed up. Stress levels for both of us were about as high as they could get.
Laura’s surgery was in February, and not long after that we got the great news that the cancer was gone. There would be lots more medications, oncologist visits, and various scans, but it was the first time we felt we could celebrate.
My job continued to deteriorate. While I had full backing of our school board, and things seemed to be mostly on schedule, I found myself without the support of our superintendent. It became apparent that there was nothing I could do, no miracle I could perform that would be enough. My career was over. Suddenly I found myself facing an early retirement. As I said, lots of tough decisions this year.
Then, just as suddenly, things got so much better. Laura’s health continued to improve, to the point she felt comfortable accepting the position of chair of the chemistry department beginning next summer. We did some traveling over the summer, bought a new convertible, and I did as much kayaking as I could. I felt like I was suffering from PTSD, but I was also recovering, and finding time for photography and exploration. I began working on my book, and found lots of things to keep me from getting bored.
There were lots of anniversaries. We went to a 35th reunion of my Governor’s School class in Charleston. It was my 30th class reunion from Furman, and I got to see lots of my friends and former classmates, and Laura and I celebrated 25 years of marriage.
All through these ups and downs we’ve had the support of very good friends and family. We couldn’t have made it through this weird year. We appreciate all of the co-workers who helped cover for us when we couldn’t be there due to health issues, the family and friends who came by with food and to pitch in, and everyone else who helped us get by. I don’t think we’ll ever be able to express our thanks enough.
So, Goodbye 2013. Here’s to 2014, and the hope that things are a bit more…normal. Or least make the new normal something that we can handle.