Every new year is cause for celebration – fireworks, champagne, sparkly hats, confetti, and lots of smiles and hugs.
For me, New Year’s Eve is a day of celebration, but it is also a day of remembrance. It was on that day, December 31st in 1994 that my youngest sister, Rose Ann Ramirez Jimenez passed away on a sunny, windy, and cold Saturday afternoon. She had suffered with Lupus for many years and on that New Year’s Eve she left this world at the age of 27.
Even all these years later, playing out the details of how things occurred that day brings me to tears, but I survived the serious and difficult storm of grieving for Rose Ann years ago.
A prayer that helped me through that very awful time was a prayer that my sister used to say all the time:
The Serenity Prayer
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
The “Serenity Prayer” is a great start to every day. It leads me to the simple truth that the only thing I can really change is my own attitude, perspective, energy, and how I interact with people every day. That truth has special meaning for me every New Year’s Eve when I remember my sister, Rose Ann.
Here are some things I’m reminded of every December 31:
Every day is a gift, an opportunity to change the things I can (me) and be happy, kind, grateful, and generous. How are you? What is in your heart? Ultimately, that’s your legacy, no matter what you’ve accomplished or accumulated. Of course, we all have bad days. Some days I don’t feel so kind or grateful and, wouldn’t you know it, those days I tend not to be too happy either. Thank God that with every new day I get another chance to be better.
Take nothing for granted. We can talk about not taking things, people, health, or opportunities for granted, but we also don’t want to take time for granted. What is it that you want to do? If you really want that, then take steps to make it happen because time ticks away, the sun rises and sets again and again, and what do you have? Who do you have? Every New Year’s Eve, I’m reminded that time is precious and not to be taken for granted.
Be present. Look around. Pay attention. It’s easy to get distracted with noise – social media, news, celebrity drama, etc, and it takes effort to be present in the moment, to be focused on who is in front of you. The other day, I was at a coffee shop and a girl about 5 years old was there with a young man who I thought was probably her father. The girl wore a red and gray plaid skirt, white blouse and a red sweater. Her long hair was braided neatly, tied with red ribbons. Her face was round and her blue eyes were wide and bright. When they sat, they didn’t speak. Her father looked at his phone as she looked at him. I wanted to walk over to him and scream, “Look at her! Talk to her!”, but I didn’t. Maybe he had something urgent to take care of. It’s not my place to judge. But come on! My takeaway? Pay attention. Listen. Notice the amazing gifts that are right in front of you.
Love. That sounds a little hippie and Kumbaya-like, but what I mean is, at your core, at your very essence, love as well and completely as you possibly can. There’s an old James Taylor song that comes to mind: “Shower the people you love with love. Show them the way you feel.” Sometimes, it’s the opposite. We show our true, darkest, and most unappealing colors to those people we love the most. It happens, but do your very best to express love, kindness, patience, and consideration way, way, way more often than anything else.
It’s a new year and a great time to reflect on what you’ve learned, how you’ve grown, and then resolve to celebrate every day. Happy New Year!