I keep humming Counting Crows’ “A Long December” to myself, but I don’t know if it’s out of a sense of hope that “this year will be better than the last,” or if it’s just simply ’90s nostalgia brought on by the start of my 40s and my child’s freshman year of high school. 

This time last year, I definitely thought we’d accomplished something by making it through 2020. It had been a hard year, with my father’s hospitalizations and months of pandemic isolation, but my dad was doing better and vaccines were on the horizon. Just before the new year, my uncle died suddenly, and I thought, “OK, that’s it. We’ve gotten our third bad thing, and now it’s smooth sailing for 2021.”

On New Year’s Eve 2009, I posted on Facebook, “Got a feeling Twenty-Ten is going to be a good year,” intending it, of course, to be sung to the tune of “1921” by The Who. 

Before the first half of 2010 was even over, my marriage was over and my sister had died. It was one of the most brutal years of my life.

So on New Year’s Eve 2020, I knew better than to make that mistake again, even though it actually was going to be “twenty one” and I did think it might actually be “a good year.” 

My superstition didn’t save me, though. Regardless of what I posted or didn’t post on social media, 2021 has absolutely kicked my ass. 

I’ve never known a year so full of heartbreak and calamity, and I hope to never know one again. 

Losing my mom was the biggest blow, obviously, but I also have been grappling with my teenage daughter pulling away from me and doing teenage stuff (normal but nevertheless challenging and painful ), my own health scares (all fine, for now, but I learned I have an increased risk of breast cancer, and I ended up in the hospital six days after my mom’s death with a ruptured ovarian cyst), a very public disclosure about a sexual assault I experienced in my 20s, and a Category 4 hurricane blowing the windows out of our upstairs bathroom and damaging our roof, all against the backdrop of a continuing and seemingly endless pandemic. 

It could be worse, absolutely. My marriage is solid, with my husband and I about to celebrate our 10th anniversary next month. My children are healthy and overall thriving, despite some growing pains here and there. We have wonderful friends and a roof (albeit still damaged while we fight with our insurance company) over our heads. 

Things have been better. Things could be worse.

Do I have a feeling ’22 “is going to be a good year”? No, not necessarily. But I have managed to summon up a little hope that, despite this long December stretching ahead of us, there is “reason to believe maybe this year will be better than the last.”

Happy New Year, everyone. May your 2022 be a gentle year. We’ve all earned a break.