I think it’s safe to say that this past year was an eventful one for all of us. I am no exception to the chaos that marked the past twelve months. My twenty-first year of life was filled with many firsts, both good and bad. Sometimes it’s still hard for me to distinguish which moments fall into which category. If we’re being honest here, some moments belong in both.
Nevertheless, when the clock struck twelve and I stood in the living room wearing a ratty T-shirt from high school and bleach stained sweatpants, I was inexplicably happy (and it wasn’t just because I was on my third glass of wine). All those cliches about entering a new year and receiving a blank slate felt true in that moment. I truly had hope for 2017, and all throughout New Year’s Day, I had a stupid, silly grin on my face as I daydreamed about the adventures that awaited me.
The following day, the energy followed me as I returned to work and traded holiday stories with my coworkers. At home, I started cleaning my room and making plans to redecorate and renovate in the months to come. All the cleaning got me hungry, so I decided to head over to the Stripes down the street from my house.
Just as I prepared to cross the street, my phone rang; it was my brother calling. I answered, and in the span of a single minute, everything changed. I don’t want to disclose exactly what happened that night, out of respect for my brother and his family. And truth be told, it’s difficult enough remembering it every time people ask me how my holidays went. Writing about it in detail is something I’m not sure I’m prepared to do yet.
However, what I can say is that as with the previous evening, several cliches became true; except this time, they weren’t so cute or inspiring. Instead, they were terrifyingly accurate and it took everything within me to remember how to breathe for the next several minutes while I waited for my sister-in-law to pick me up. The next few hours were a blur of phone calls and waiting for answers. As the night turned into day and back, it seemed that every text message or phone call brought more bad news. In the days that followed, I spent most of my time in a fog, well aware of the situation but unsure how to feel about it.
The situation unlocked a plethora of emotions I didn’t know existed within me. There was definitely a lot of sadness and fear, but also a lot anger, which then led to guilt. This cycle of emotions was relentless, threatening to push me well past my breaking point. I was fortunate enough to have several friends and family members by my side who helped me cope during this time. Whether reminding me to eat or providing a healthy distraction in the form of a Queen Latifah flick, they all gradually led me back into my own life.
It’s now been three weeks since that night, and I’d like to say the dust has settled by now. My family and I have resumed our normal lives. I’ve begun my final semester of college and am back to anticipating whatever comes after May 19th. My days are filled with work and classes, and my to-do list is longer with each day. I am a normal college student once again, often dead tired the moment I arrive home, sometimes even earlier.
Yet in those rare moments where I am alone and everything is quiet, I remember everything. Besides all the lights and sounds, I remember how numb I felt, and how I believed that I would never be able to feel happy ever again. Though the ordeal is over now, that feeling still lingers. I was thrown into a situation that forced me to confront and share things that had been haunting me for years. Now I am the only who can let the burden of my past fall from my shoulders, and that’s an overwhelming thing to think about. It has always been so much easier to let the rocks hit me hard and fast than fight back. When this year threw its stones at me all too soon, I was sure happiness eluded me for good.
But I continue to search for it relentlessly, despite everything that happened before, during, and after that night. This year threatened to take it from me, but I hope by December 31st, 2017, things will be different. I have a year of milestones ahead of me, and though everything’s not perfect, I can still be happy. That’s really all I can wish for this year: to find happiness in the darkest of times and most of all, to save it for the moments and people that matter.