Like any story worth investing in--the kind that can sweep you up into its enthralling grip--turning the page is the only way to find out where the story leads, taking with you the sum of the story thus far. My life is that story. Ken isn't a footnote in my story, he's the theme. That won't change. And as difficult and heartbreaking it is to face a new year without him, part of me--maybe a selfish part--can say with relief "this isn't a year where Ken is sick" and at the very least "this isn't the year Ken died."
I spent New Year's Eve alone intentionally--physically, not emotionally. I declined New Year's Eve gatherings given out of the truest and loveliest intentions. (I spoke to some folks and received texts from others.) But NYE this year held a lot of weigh for me. I've spent all of the previous ten NYE with Ken. Some of them were with friends, some with family, some with both, but all of them were with Ken and many were just he and I (and Quantum) at home--whether in LA or Chicago. And unlike so many other holidays, NYE doesn't have any implied obligations. So we were free to make our own plans--or make none. It seemed incumbent on me to reflect on the events in 2011. Yes, the sad ones, but more importantly the happy ones. The times--even brief moments or seconds--when Ken and I shared a laugh or smile or held hands. Connecting with him was certainly the brightest memories I have of the year, but many others spent with loved ones--laughing, crying, and all in between--were among some of the most important ones as well.
It hardly seems possible to me that it's been a year since last NYE. It's somehow so easy to blink past all the events that occurred in the interim--including his death. I can remember last NYE so vividly, with his parents staying with us for the Christmas holiday. We didn't officially know what we were facing then, and though he was getting radiation therapy to treat the tumors we knew about, he was uncomfortable and in pain--though you would never guess the magnitude because of his "ken do" disposition. I long for him and our times together, but never would I want him to be in the kind of pain he endured daily. My intellectualizing self can wish for it with impunity, because I know it can never be. Yet even when I've wished for it, I never fail to qualify it "without cancer or pain."
I feel very optimistic about 2012 and all the promise it holds. Moving forward is never about forgetting--though at times it can feel that way. It may be an arbitrary date based on an ancient calendar, but the newness and the "do-over" aspect of the first of the year is undeniable in me--particularly this year.
It's time to turn the page and find out what's next for me and my story, understanding Ken and memories of life together will always be tucked safely in my heart--treasured and visited open. It's not a dramatic proclamation. It's really nothing more than I've already been doing for the past seven months. But something about the New Year makes it feel…shinier.
(For New Year's Eve 2004, we decided to get fancied up and head out to dinner at The Eclectic Cafe, a nearby restaurant we always enjoyed. Of course, we were the only ones with 6 pm dinner reservations, but we did have a Quantum to get home to. Ken (right) so clearly eclipsed me with sheer dapperness and ridiculous handsomeness. It doesn't take Vidal Sassoon to see I was clearly dealing with a "hair situation.")