There’s something about the dawning of a new year that always makes me think about change.
It’s inevitable, I guess.
As the calendar registers a new number that I will certainly get wrong for the entire month of January everytime I write a check, I can’t help but wonder what’s ahead and, honestly, wish I could see a little bit around the bend.
Before, when I was younger and more apt to face the unexpected with a sense of adventure, the changing of a new year didn’t seem so daunting. Now, though, with what feels like some hard life experience behind me, I find the coming change rather . . . fear-filled, to be exact.
Who knows, after all, what could be coming up ahead? Certainly not me. And sometimes the unknown makes me want to wish I could stay here forever.
I thought about this recently when I visited my sister’s family for a few days in Colorado. My 11-year-old niece Emma graciously let me camp out in her very cool turquoise bedroom, on one wall of which she has a whiteboard. I’m not exactly sure, but I think Emma uses her whiteboard to keep track of school assignments and other important information, but for the duration of my visit she used it to write me messages.
There’s nothing like arriving after a long day of travel and seeing “I love you Auntie Amy! I am so glad you are here!” welcoming me. Come to think of it, I’ve never had that happen anywhere before, which went a long way toward making me feel extra special.
We had a lot of fun together, Emma and me. For one thing, she is a crackerjack bowler who decimated me everytime we played Wii bowling together (although I did see some improvement once she started giving me tips). I got to go with Emma when she got a new haircut, which makes her look incredibly grown up and reminds me that time is marching on faster than I can keep up. And, in the advent of her newly acquired email address, I did the reasonable thing and taught her how to Google Chat—just so we can keep in touch better and she can fill me in on whether or not my sister, her mother, is behaving. (Doubtful.)
Over the days I was there Emma wrote various messages on her whiteboard. On my last day at Emma’s house I noticed a new message written in red ink in her sweet, 11-year-old print. Emma’s message said, “I wish you could stay forever.”
We don’t get to see each other too often, Emma and me, so I know how she feels. I wish I could . . . see her everyday, live perpetually in the glow of the Christmas lights, eat fabulous meals that I don’t have to cook every single night, tell family stories that make us laugh until our sides hurt, experience firsts together that we don’t often get to do living so far apart, chat about the critically important things in life—like hairstyles . . . . I wish I could make my front-row view of the amazing young woman she is becoming a permanent place to hang out.
Emma, I sometimes I wish I could stay forever, too, in places like this one, places where love is the defining quality and warmth and peace and hope and promise prevail.
But we never can really stay forever, can we? The calendar just flipped over to a new year, and who knows what’s coming in 2010? Since we can’t ever stay where we are forever, I guess it’s into the uncertainty and promise of a new year we go. And as I do I am whispering the words of a prayer I heard from the pulpit last Sunday, as I visited Emma’s church: “It’s with gratitude that we look back at the way your hand has led us this year . . . “ and add my own whiteboard-worthy message to God: “. . . and whatever is ahead, lead us still. Amen.”