Life is an adventure, which implies excitement. Sometimes, too, it might actually mean venturing into uncharted or unfamiliar territory. For many, it was a rocky road in 2023. So many I know lost loved ones, including the most poignant pain of losing a child.
Still another friend had the double loss of a mother and father just a month apart which exacts a heavy toll as a loving family is drastically reduced and reshaped.
And the same has happened with ongoing conflicts and war, seemingly worlds away, in which entire families are among those lost senselessly and amid terror. Heartrending as peace seems everelusive.
Friends have shared that their parents or other relatives are living with dementia. That is a hard blow, even as they try to provide reassurance to their loved ones with this cognitive disorder.
My own beloved uncle passed in January after many years with this condition. His loved ones, dear friends and former colleagues, including those in the military, gathered together in Pennsylvania for his funeral.
And I wept not only for his loss, but for those who could not gather in a similar fashion with the support and the experience of sharing memories together – this because their losses came during the height of Covid.
And, we all bow our collective heads to Maine, which suffered a multi-location mass shooting and a lockdown spanning communities. So many lives were tragically and violently lost, all while these ordinary Americans were going about their personal business alongside friends and family.
For me, it was especially excruciatingly painful to read about the loss of four deaf Mainers, who were participating in a cornhole tournament at a bowling alley. Their tightly knit and tiny community was rendered that much smaller. Simply devastating.
But, also, the last month of the year offers many different ways to give consideration to the winter season, its many holidays, and the coming year ahead.
There is no denying this time of year has the effect of deepening the meaning of feelings we all share as part of the human family. Though, this will often mean bearing sorrow or distress more keenly, as past traditions are remembered during the Festival of Lights or the Christmas season.
Still, these red letter days might take the shape of feasts and festivals, solstice, redemption, rituals and reflections for summing-up this year. Personally, I cannot believe it is almost 2024. (My life in Naples began 30 years ago. As was once remarked, the days are long and the years are short.)
How do we find hope, peace and joy? It may boil down to listening to, and for, love’s gentle voice. And it may be just a whisper, but it will give us strength, shelter, safety, sustenance.
A loving mindset can be found within ourselves. A famous American educator and author; also deaf and blind, Helen Keller, summed up this truth: “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.”
May your heart sing with hope, joy, peace, and above all, love.
May compassion for yourself extend to others during the coming holidays and all throughout the new year.
Email Karen with your article ideas concerning Life in Naples (especially as to local charities and their activities): Napleskcc@gmail.com. Follow her on Instagram for more vignettes about Life in Naples: @naplesbythenumbers