Y’know, I’d never really put much thought into what a “New Year” really means until now. Sure, you switch over to a new calendar, and spend the first two months training yourself to write the date properly. Other than that though, January first has always just felt like any other day to me.
But this year feels so different. And not in a good way.
This is the first year of my life I’ll be living without Luc. Probably the first of many. And it feels so empty without him. Lonely, almost.
And I know how ridiculous that sounds. I spent so many years away from him, with an ocean between us. Why should this feel any different?
But it does. It really does.
Still, they say a new year is supposed to be a new beginning too, right? And it has been, for some of us.
Clara and Florian are expecting another baby. It was kind of a surprise when they told us… But not an unpleasant one. It’s just complicated. Lots of mixed emotions. We’re all thrilled for them, of course… But I think that’s the problem. It feels so strange to be happy… To be celebrating a new life when we’re all still reeling from the pain of a lost one.
I think it’s something we’re all struggling with right now.
And Clara and Florian aren’t the only ones with something to celebrate. Gus got accepted into an apprenticeship position at one of the law firms downtown. He’s finally one step closer to becoming a full-fledged lawyer. We’re all so proud of him, and I know he’s proud of himself too, but… There’s just something so sad about celebrating without Luc.
We all feel it.
I just keep dreaming of the day when things can start feeling normal again. When it feels okay to laugh and celebrate and be happy. When I’m not haunted every day by that last phone call. When I don’t feel Luc watching me in my sleep every night. When I don’t hate myself for all those wasted years.
I’m fighting so hard to keep my head above water right now. To stop myself from drowning in all this. But it’s not easy.
And watching the people I care about struggling too doesn’t help.
We can’t all be as lucky as Gus and Clara.
Poor Zayne. Ever since his breakdown at Christmas, he’s been having such a hard time. Acting out at school. Withdrawing from his peers. Not smiling as much as he used to.
Dr. Becker says to keep an eye on him, but that this behavior is pretty normal for someone in Zayne’s shoes. “Working through the grief”, he calls it.
But that doesn’t make it hurt any less to see him like this. I really, really love that kid. The longer I’m around him, the more he’s starting to feel like one of my own. Which also means that seeing him in pain is hurting me more and more.
And he’s not the only one.
I’m so worried about Papa. We all are. He hasn’t been eating very much, for months now. And he’s been drinking so much more than he ever did before… It’s almost scary. I mean, he’s not doing anything scary. He doesn’t yell or get angry. He doesn’t even drink every night. But when he does, he’s just… not himself.
We’ve all tried talking to him about it… We try telling him alcohol isn’t the way to solve his problems. And that’s when he gets angry. He won’t listen to any of us. He won’t let us help him. I don’t know how much longer I can stand seeing him like this.
And you know what the worst part is?
There are days when it doesn’t seem like such a bad idea. To just drink until the pain stops. Until the terrible thoughts fade away. Until nothing matters anymore. Until I can pretend to be happy again.
Because I realized something recently.
I haven’t been happy for years. Years.
Don’t get me wrong – my girls bring me so much joy. They’re my whole world. My life wouldn’t be the same without them.
But deep down inside, the happiness just isn’t there. And it hasn’t been for a long time. Not since before I moved to Willow Creek. I can see it all so much more clearly now.
At first I was just plain angry. At my family. At Mark. At myself…
Then the sadness came. I think it lasted even longer than the anger.
After that, it was the guilt. It was overwhelming. Like I was drowning in it.
Now I just feel empty.