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Jill Gugino-Redman: As year draws to a close I remain ever grateful

What a frightening prospect – a blank piece of paper. So much hope, so many possibilities. It has been a long time since I have picked up a pen and put it to paper. Long gone are the days of my carefree youth. Gone are the days of loves lost and distracted views of self. Gone are the days of caring what others thought of me. It’s quite liberating, actually.

At times I look back fondly and remember. If I breathe deeply enough, I can still smell it, taste it even. I was religious about writing things down, sharing my innermost secrets, my hopes and dreams, my failures and sins committed. Ha! Like someone would ever care about who I kissed or loved or hated.

I always thought I was fat. Thing is, I felt fatter at 100 pounds than I do now tipping the scales at – well, a lot more than 100 pounds. Let’s just leave it at that.

Youth is wasted on the young; it really is! By no means am I old, but I am ripe with middle age. I see the strands of gray hair and the wrinkles next to my eyes. I take pleasure in watching my children grow. I find the wonder of youth in their eyes.

I relish the moments I am able to connect with my parents, when I see them happy and safe. I smile ear to ear when Dad stands sure-footed, if only for a moment. I will photograph this moment in my mind in case it is the last time.

This year has taught me to breathe in these seemingly little life moments to hang onto them. It is then that I can let go of the times I have to shower Dad. Although I feel blessed in doing it, it is something both of us would rather not discuss.

Sometimes I feel as though my golden age is nearing an end. The pages are turning and I don’t know how long I will be able to keep together what I have. People grow and change. People die. I have learned that this year. We have lost so many good people, and often I feel like we are dodging a bullet or ducking a wrecking ball. I never thought of that when I was younger.

Sadly, I will not be able to protect my children from the raw images that are dropped at our feet every time we turn on the television or open the laptop. Is ignorance bliss? I am beginning to think so.

The fresh face I once had is now a bit seasoned. Like bread that was left out, a little hard on the edges but still soft in the middle. Growing older made me realize one thing: I now like myself and if I did not know me, I would want to be my friend. You see, our history changes us and shapes us. It has made me who I am. The struggles can either leave you ravaged and raw, or rising from the ashes like a phoenix.

For now I sit on a glass rim peering over the edge. Right now I am on top. I will live this day because tomorrow is not guaranteed. I will dance in the kitchen with my husband. I will laugh with my boys. I will run fully clothed in the ocean because we made it there. I will wake them up and let them skip school so we can carve the freshly fallen snow with our skis. I will spin until I am dizzy with this crazy existence.

When I am forced to pick Dad up from the floor, I will be reminded how fragile life is. But I will continue to breathe in and remember to look back fondly.

The passing year does not make me grow old, it makes me grow more thankful. I am a fierce woman warrior and an ageless goddess! This is my wish for all of us.