Friday, January 1, 2016

2015: One Great Loss and Many Great Victories

I've made it my tradition to reflect on this blog at the end/beginning of each year.  This year stands out as one of the defining years of my life.  A second great loss in a short time blew away my last layers of denial, forcing me to embrace life for what it is: brief and all there is, for mortals as we all are.

My brother Robert died in January.  His death was sudden and unexpected.  He left behind a wife and two children.  My brother and I were never good friends, but we reached a point of truce a few years before his life ended.  Our personalities and dispositions were such that the two of us would never have become good friends, but I loved him as a brother and his loss overwhelmed me.  Seeing him in his coffin, I was overcome with a wave of sadness so great I broke down completely and cried a river.  I did not expect tor react that way.  I planned on being as stoic as I could muster, but failed.  The grief was greater than my will.

A little more than a year before, I lost my father.  Between my father and brother, our cat died as well.  Many friends have passed as well.  The writing is on the wall.  I too could go at any time and what can I say of all of the things I wished to do in this life?  I decided to act.  I drew up a bucket list and off I went.

I have always wanted to stand on the Arctic Ocean, so I flew to Barrow, Alaska and walked onto the Arctic Ocean.  I wore my father's boots.  I knew it was something he too would want to do, so I took his boots with me.

Iceland has long been on my bucket list too, this and combined with the possibility of liberating a friend from a regime in a Middle Eastern country that keeps her from her freedom, I went to Iceland, both to see the country and to help her escape if she was able to meet me there.  She messaged me while I was on the bus from the airport.  It would not be this time.  I cried a little, but knew that I would be able to help her another time.  I went on to enjoy Iceland and my friends there.

My daughter's graduation (another huge accomplishment for a single father) altered my travel plans and I split Iceland into two visits, one in May and one in June.  For the June trip, I ticked off another bucket list item: to visit Greenland.  I flew to Greenland from Iceland.  While in Greenland, I ticked off another bucket list item: to journey by dogsled.  Sure, it was only a 1/2 hour ride on the dogsled, but it was to be my airport shuttle, and I am satisfied with that experience.

Back in Iceland I visited about half of the country, renting a car.  I also stayed at a friend's farm for a few days.

I went to Alaska again.

The next trip was to Rome and Sardinia.  Rome and various Roman ruins were on my bucket list, so I visited them too.  In Sardinia, I visited two groups of friends: one group from Sardinia and another from Catalonia.  While in Sardinia, I went by sea to Corsica and back.

Next I went to Las Vegas.  No, Las Vegas was not on my bucket list, but I went to see a favorite musician perform, Natalia Lafourcade.  While there, I went to the Latin Grammy Awards, seeing many of my other favorite musicians.

I also went to Miami Beach, a place I consider one of my many homes.

Finally, I ended the year off by visiting a friend in Arkansas.

My plans for this new year are just as special, as you will learn in time.

I have plenty of photos to share, but I'm on the road right now.  I will edit this post later.