Farewell to 2017

Hester Hill Schnipper, LICSW, OSW-C Program Manager, Oncology Social Work

DECEMBER 29, 2017

This is my final entry for 2017. I don't write on the week-ends and Monday is New Year's Day. As always, I watch the year slide away with mixed and often intense feelings. In our world, there has been much Trouble this year, and I will not stray into politics, but remind us all of the natural and man-made catastrophes that left death and destruction. Closer to home, I think of the women whom I loved who have died over the year, and am grateful for their friendship and better for having known them. It has been especially tough for my group for women with metastatic breast cancer as we lost several long-time and beloved members in a short period. Farewell and God speed and God bless to Dietlinde and Joan and Ann.

How do we find comfort? For me, and I suspect for many others, the obvious and easily found blessings are in the beauty of the world around us. As in: How can we be afraid of the dark when we have so loved the stars? Several years ago, my husband and I were in a safari camp in the Kalahari. It was possible to spend a night on the roof of our hut; the understanding was that the animals couldn't climb stairs, and we accepted that reassurance. Mattress pads and blankets were carried up to the roof platform, and we lay down under the most magnificent star-filled sky that anyone could every imagine. Did you see the movie Contact? In it, as Jodie Foster is carried into space, she stares out at the universe and says: They should have sent a poet. That is what one night in Africa looked like for me.

One does not have to travel so far or even stay up so late to see miracles of beauty. The ice-covered tree limbs of this week have been spectacular as they shine in the winter sun. During the spring and summer, every day brings something in the garden that was not there the previous day. And in the fall, the spectacular show of the New England leaves reminds us of endings in glory. If we walk in the woods in the late fall, before the snow and frosts, the dry leaves crunch, and the smells of early sweet decay surround us. It might seem hard, but we need only to remember the coming days of spring when new life will appear. A few animals will be gone, but others will be accompanied by their babies. So it is and so it must be.

The first time we traveled to Africa was for our honeymoon in January 1995. Being a couple of sentimentalists, we were both overcome by all we experienced and saw. Nature was both uncompromising and ever promising. I kept a journal on that trip, and the last words were these: As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be. World without end. Amen.

Wishing you and yours a Happy and Healthy New Year and moments to savor our blessings.

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