Like many people, I’m not sad to see 2016 go. Times Square was still filled with New Year’s Eve revelers when Natalie Cole, Marion James, and Wayne Rogers left us, and within the next ten days we lost Pierre Boulez, Nicholas Caldwell, Florence King, Otis Clay, and David Bowie. Those are just a few of the names, and these were mostly performers. Scanning the exhaustive list Wikipedia tracks for every death on every day of the year, I am astounded to find the tremendous number of activists, mathematicians, scientists, world leaders and sports figures who no longer live among us. Many were not household names, but their contributions have affected each of us on some level.
As the early days of 2016 turned into weeks, and the weeks into months, I found myself accomplishing a number of things. I completed another book, I tackled major outdoor projects as the weather warmed, and many times during the past year there have been visitors to entertain and take sightseeing. There have been many joys, but it seems as though every few days I was punched in the stomach with news of some unexpected death or tragedy unfolding in the world.
There were stories of “super moons” and other celestial cycles nearing ends or beginning transits, which according to some beliefs mean major upheavals and “new” norms. And finally came more news of death, and the loss of people who seemed to be living forever. People I knew from childhood, parents of friends, relatives and others whose images and remembered conversations would not leave my mind for weeks.
As we age, news of illness and death are more than a sense of concern and loss. Death and taxes are required, and we are forced to admit what lies ahead. It’s going to happen at some point, and we can only hope to go under the best circumstances. Until then, we reflect on adventures, choices and relationships, while remaining hopeful that the uncertain days ahead will bring more joy than sorrow.
As much as I complain, I am actually an optimist. At the risk of sounding like a politician, my best days lie ahead. As the calendar turns, I’m ready to embrace the great things coming my way, but as this long year passes into memory, there is one death that thrills me: the year 2016.
© 2016 by Patrick Brown
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