Never in my life have I been more grateful to see a year come to a close. Generally, I face the end of each year with gratitude and a little bit of wistfulness and although there is gratitude this yearend, the gratitude comes from a much different angle than it generally does. This year the gratitude stems from the fact that 2009 is over because this year developed into one of the biggest years of painful lessons and growth and ended up being nothing that I could have ever imagined.
In numerology, the number "9" represents completion and I do believe that this year fully lived up to the definition of completion. Things in my life completed in ways that I wouldn't have believed if I hadn't actually experienced it and, as I look back on what has been, I praise all that is holy that I made it through this year ALIVE.
As the year draws to a close, one thing has become very clear to me, clearer than it has ever been before: Family is of the utmost importance. Family isn't only the people with whom you share DNA or the people with whom you were raised. Family is more than that. Family is the people with whom you come to life and it may not even be the people with whom you share blood. It could be the people with whom you choose to surround yourself.
While I was in massage school, one of my instructors referred to the importance of touch based on the results of some studies of London orphanages in the early 1900's. Although each child's every physical need was met, the mortality rate was astronomical. Specific controlled studies showed that when a number of infants were placed in a group that was assigned care-givers who were allowed to hold, touch and cuddle the babies those babies thrived and lived. The only change in those babies' worlds was the fact that they were privy to human touch, while their peers who died did not have that gift. While my research to find the actual documentation of these studies was fruitless, I have a sound belief in the power of human connection expressed in this story.
If you have ever been sad and have had someone say nothing, but simply offer to hold you or give you "a shoulder to cry on" then I imagine you have understood - if only for that moment - the power of another human's presence in your life. Human beings are generally designed to congregate. Way back to the "cave man days" we learned that there is perceived safety in numbers and, if we work well together, we can accomplish a lot more than if we were to work alone. Additionally, it's a lot more fun to do a project together.
The yearend holiday season tends to be filled with get-togethers, parties and reunions. While this year for me has been dramatically different than any other year in my history, I am grateful these 12 months have provided many opportunities to be with my family - biological and chosen. I've had plenty of chances to get really clear about how much people mean to me, what they mean to my life and, sadly, what it means when they are gone. I've had chances to get clear about with whom I want to continue to grow my relationships and, with others, that it is time to say a definitive goodbye.
So, as this year draws to an end, I'm counting myself greatly blessed and recognizing the power of human connection. I'm relishing in the feeling of coming to life around my biological family - people who know me and hold my history in their memories - and that feeling of joy in being around them. I'm also cherishing the few loved ones with whom I do not share DNA that have brought such meaning to my life and who are being witness to my unfolding.
In closing, I invite you to take a moment to ponder your life and focus on the individuals who bring richness to your world. Then, take the time to let them know they've made a difference.
© Angie K. Millgate 12/28/09