Outside, rain drenches the brown grass and fallen leaves to the sounds of high winds through the naked trees. Fog, like low lying clouds, clings to the earth in defiance. Nature seems to groan as another gust bends the trees with a roar that builds and then diminishes like birth pangsAnd just around the corner of the clock waits the new year, swaddled in mystery, unshaken by the storm. 

I keep telling myself that maybe it’s just my age that makes the dim outdoors seem to penetrate my memory of the year. After all, as we age, so do our friends and family, and with age comes death. Death seems to be all around us, doesn’t it? Decaying leaves, haunting news about murders and political turmoil, week old remnants of Christmas dinner that should probably be pitched in the trash, and a calendar at its last page. And the loss of loved ones who should be sharing this time of year with those they’ve left behind. 

The whining in the trees, though loud to me, fails to gain the attention of those that have crossed over to their reward. I consider some of them; some with years left ahead of them. As I consider this, I realize my age is not driving my contemplation, but thoughts of those who took their own lives this year stalk me. They are the unnecessary losses that lack explanation and infect our subconscious with unasked and unanswered questions. 

What has happened to the world? 

Can I just say, if you’re depressed, sad, trapped – please, call out to someone. Don’t underestimate your value to those around you. Tell us what we can do to help avoid being robbed of your life. Maybe you feel small – we all do at some point; some more than others. Maybe you have hit a dead end and can’t see past it, but the sun will rise in the morning. Maybe one of your circle of friends can sit with you until it rises. Maybe you’re believing a lie that those you love would be better off without you. It’s a powerful lie, but a lie nonetheless. Or, maybe you think they would hate you if they knew what truth you held. But you have no idea. Would you throw your life away, sacrificing that which cannot be pulled back at the feet of the unknown? The reality is, the devastation is like an emotional atom bomb. You would smackdown on anyone who would hurt your friends and family, so don’t you do it. I know you’re not thinking clearly, so reach out to those who are. You may hate yourself, and maybe someone else does, too – perhaps someone important to you – but others don’t hate you. No one can be loved by all, but no one is hated by all either. So, for the love of the others, the ones who would be devastated by your loss, please reach out. Please. 

I’m reflective, contemplative, and at times sad for what has been lost this year. But I do have joy deep inside. The year hasn’t been a total loss, as I have amazing friends, family, and God. Joy and happiness are not the same things. Happiness is reliant upon circumstance or emotion, but joy comes from somewhere deeper and is a stabilizer for the soul. That is a whole different post…

If you’ve read this post to the end, I thank you. And I leave you with this line from the ever-popular movie, It’s a Wonderful Life: No man is a failure who has friends. Hug your friends this New Year, and often thereafter. Make sure you tell people you love them, care about them, that you’re there for them. Remember that we need each other. 

May God give you grace and mercy in your time of need. 

Shai 

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