I hate New Year’s resolutions; let’s just get that out of the way right now. It’s not the cheap, cheesy exaggeration of emotion that Madison Avenue has thrown at us as the new start to your year, although that’s there. It’s because the New Year’s Resolution has now become a throw away statement, something that’s given very little thought and even less effort.
Do you remember how you celebrated the coming of this day last night, counting down that anticipatory ten seconds? The likelihood is that you were out with friends, or threw a party, something amazing, the planning and the stress overtaking you. The ball dropped, the fireworks went off, the 12th bell tolling, and you looked up and saw your husband/wife/girl/boyfriend and grabbed them, kissing them, and went back to your party. Even if you’re single or alone, you likely found someone in a similar station and planted one on them to avoid the embarrassment of standing alone with a drink in your hand.
I’d kill to have that person next to me, to give into the oft overblown tradition of kissing on the stroke of midnight, but I lost my love. Sure, it hurt, and it’s not like I wanted to be around reminders of what I lost. Instead, I look at this day as something that forces me to reflect on the past; not just the last year but the last two decades. You see, on March 26th I lost that person, the literal better half of myself who kept me on track and pushed me to ensure that I continued to make the year better than the one before. The clock struck and I had merely the muscle memory of her lips against mine and was left to reflect on that first kiss twenty years ago as people around me, in houses, bars, clubs and events kissed with no idea that they should embrace this event wholeheartedly and ignore the planning and stress swirling around it.
I make no resolutions. Not the typical kind. Mine have to be statements, predictions of the future. A list of things that cannot be brushed aside like so many worthless ideas given the same amount of thought as what I should wear today. So here we go.
*I WILL lose another 30 pounds. This is not because it’s the typical weight loss hope, it’s because I have to. I need to eat better, get healthy and lower my cholesterol so the children who lost their mother do NOT think they’re in danger of losing their only parent. So my kids exercise and spend more time away from the couch and the TV too, and then we find ourselves with each other.
*I WILL break dozens of stories and work more than I’m asked. I have an amazing job with a great boss. They allow me time with my family and let me go take care of them in emergencies with no guilt or repercussions. For that, I will do 150% for them. I need this job and will fight to keep it.
*I WILL ease the routine in the house, getting the kids doing more and planning my time so that the kids have a Dad, not a maid/nanny/babysitter/laundress/butler/chef.
*I WILL see my family at least once, maybe more in the next year. I lost my best friend. I don’t want to waste the time I have left with the parents who made sure losing Andrea didn’t destroy us all.
*I WILL play and write music, in front of and involving my children so they see melody and harmony in the world.
*I WILL make every effort to give my kids the memories and childhood I had, even though it’s not possible. Only by trying my hardest to give them what they need will they have the childhood memories they deserve, even if they don’t include the amazing Mom they loved.
Even after all this, New Year’s isn’t the complete restart for us. While normally you’d start the count, seeing 364 more days ahead of you. We still have 85 more to go. Every holiday, family event and activity has been a new adjustment for us – a reminder of what we lost and a challenge to tackle as the days continue to click by. But the biggest day, the hardest event to come is March 26th. That day is beautiful and horrifying to me now. It’s both the day I married my best friend and greatest love and the day I lost her forever. Until we face that day, that final event that resets the clock, we can’t continue the year, not really. But only through fulfilling those promises above will we get through that day and be able to actually end the first chapter, see our story begin.
You don’t have to suffer a loss or a tragedy like we did. If nothing else, by doing what I do you might avoid it. Grab this opportunity. Don’t make a resolution; those fail, miserably. Instead, make a promise!
Is there something you want to change? What do you want to take control of in 2012? What will you do?
Dave Manoucheri is a writer and journalist based in Sacramento, California. A father of four, two daughters and twin sons, his blog, Our Story Begins is a chronicle of their daily life after the loss of his wife, Andrea, in March of 2011. Follow him on Twitter @InvProducerMan.