I’m not going to beat around the bush: I, along with many others, will be glad to wave goodbye to 2017.
The mood in the UK this year as we navigate Brexit, the horrific squeeze on the public purse and the dying, wheezing last breaths of the NHS as it’s taken apart by our government is sombre, to say the least. Our emergency departments and mental health services are in crisis; 1 in 200 people in our country are now homeless; the numbers of children in care and on the child protection register are soaring.
It hasn’t felt a positive place to be. I think many have felt a bit lost this year.
And for us: In 2017 my husband (who three years ago I was climbing mountains with) was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.
We decided to move to where we now live to give our little girl opportunities to run free outdoors, to play in the waves and clamber across rocks. We wanted to take it easy, go on long walks together and take in the natural beauty around us.
The reality is, we can’t do these things together in the way we envisioned. My husband walks a few metres before his legs start to wobble. A 200 metre walk to the seafront is enough for him to need to spend the afternoon in bed recuperating. He falls over when he turns on the spot. He can’t dance anymore. He will never run on the beach with our little girl like we imagined he would.
But there are others facing far harsher and more difficult realities than us.
I bumped into someone recently who has a son the same age as my little girl. She told me her husband is going to die from a rare form of cancer. An entire life together has been taken away from her, yet her resolve and her strength and her hope for a future beyond this life astonished me.
Life is painful sometimes. It really isn’t always kind. It throws huge curveballs and the goalposts have to shift, or they’re blown entirely out of the water and we have to rethink it all and start again.
The main lesson for us this year was this: there is not enough time. Use it wisely. Life is too short.
I blinked and I’m nearly 35 and have spent 12 years in a career I don’t enjoy. I have never lived abroad, I never did learn to play the guitar and I still don’t speak Spanish.
What on earth is stopping me? What is stopping you achieving what you want to do?
The photos I have of my husband and I travelling together, grinning at the camera on the side of a mountain take on a whole new meaning when I look at them now.
Life is too short not to be the person you were meant to be. Book that trip. Go to that class. Call that friend you wanted to catch up with. Drop that grudge. It’ll be too late one day.
While I feel sad and I have been angry about what has happened to my family’s future and how much our lives have already changed – it could be worse.
For now, we’re all still here. We need to make it count.