The day, and the year, have come and gone, and with each of them so many feelings I can’t quite label.
I finished the last seven rainbow stars this morning and loaded them into my car, with notes from our family to the families spending this New Year’s Eve on the seventh floor. I went to All Children’s alone; Michael was working on the party preparations and the boys were happily playing. Alone was just fine with me. I needed to sing harmony with Gillian Welch until the lump in my throat finally gave way, just as I was approaching the cables of the Sunshine Skyway.
My favorite medical tech Tuwanda and one of my favorite nurses were the first two people I saw on the seventh floor when I arrived. I was greeted with big warm hugs. I brought 28 rainbow stars with me, one for each bed on the floor. Fortunately, only eighteen beds were occupied today. I left one for each family plus a few extras for any new admissions. Tuwanda was happy to hang them for me. When I left, I put one in the play room window. It looked so beautiful. A moment of beauty in what can be a very scary place. It felt like the perfect way to punctuate this year.
I also brought a trunkload of toys with me to All Children’s, collected from our surplus and from generous friends. I filled an entire donation bin in the hospital lobby.
Driving south on the Skyway was immensely rewarding. Last year, I never returned to soak our black eyed peas and pop our champagne. This year, I returned to my people, healthy and vibrant, and the promise of a houseful tomorrow.
We spent the evening with the Gilkey family at Kathy’s house, enjoying a gorgeous spread of food and cousins reuniting. We returned to ring in the new year here, at home, which meant the world to me. Just before the clock struck midnight, I pulled Banyan aside and told him how proud I am of his heart. I know what a year he has had and I recognize and honor his experience. I also told Benji I was proud of him, but I didn’t linger too long. I tried to let him focus on not being in the hospital this New Year’s Eve rather than putting him back into that mind space. And Michael…our New Year’s kiss held more unspoken words than any kiss in the history of kisses.
Benji was quiet during the sparklers and champagne that followed midnight. He insists he was just tired. But I know he has contemplated much today. He sleeps beside me now.
This year has held moments that have lasted eternities, yet it has flown by at warp speed. So many lessons. So many blessings. So many rainbows in so many clouds.
Happy New Year.