Saturday, December 31, 2011

Good Riddance to 2011

I'm continuing to answer these questions every year.  If you're curious (or you've got time to kill), you can click to see my responses in 2009 and 2010.

1. What did you do in 2011 that you’d never done before?
Got a full time real professor job.  Attended a grief support group.  Became good friends with people I've only met on the internet.  Cried almost daily.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I did not make any resolutions last year.  (Beginning of 2011:  Not a good time for looking forward to ANYTHING).  As for this year, I want to write more, worry less, do more yoga, help Cooper lose 5 pounds, and learn to do something new.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

My new friend Sarah welcomed her second son, Owen.  My friend from home, Megan, welcomed her second son, Hudson. My BFF Monica had her baby girl, Ellie Kate.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Not in 2011.

5. What countries did you visit?

Canada (it's lovely there, and the people really are that friendly) and Mexico (also lovely, and just FYI, Puerto Vallarta is warmer in December than Vancouver is in July).

6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?
A baby.  A lighter heart.  Fewer tears.  Bittersweet memories that lean more toward the sweet, less toward the bitter.

7. What dates from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
January 11th--Eliza's unofficial due date and the 9 year anniversary of our first date.  January 15th--Eliza's official due date. 

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Surviving.  Maintaining my marriage, friendships, employment.  Also taking care of myself as best I could--eating, going to therapy, going to support groups, reaching out to friends online, and going to yoga.

9. What was your biggest failure?
I've failed to forgive or be as understanding as I could be with people who are uncomfortable with my grief.  

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
As I wrote last year, I've read that grief is a disease with specific symptoms like shortness of breath and loss of appetite.  So yes, I am still suffering. But I also think I have done a lot of healing over the past year.  Even though I sort of hate the word "healing" when it comes to grief.  Physically, though, it makes sense to me.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Monthly massages and a Prius.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Everybody who reached out to us on Eliza's birthday.  

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

People who shocked me by responding to our requests for specific types of support with silence or anger.

14. Where did most of your money go?
The usual... mortgage, groceries, gas.  Also to travel.  We visited Florida, Chicago, Vancouver, Whistler, and Puert0 Vallarta.

15. What did you get really excited about?
I'm not sure "excited" really fit in my vocabulary this year.  I will say that I enjoyed and benefited from our vacations, I was relieved and pleased to get my new job, and I was pretty satisfied with a cute bag I scored at a Kate Spade sample sale...

16. What song will always remind you of 2011?
Adele, "Rolling in the Deep."  That song was everywhere, but I never got tired of it.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

– happier or sadder? I have to say, I am happier than I was at this time last year.  I mean, I was three weeks out from the death of my baby at this time last year.  Fifty-five weeks out, my sadness levels about that are still the same, but happiness levels about other things have risen considerably. 
– thinner or fatter? Thinner.  Lost the baby weight, hoping to gain it all back in 2012.
– richer or poorer? Financially richer, thanks to my new job.  Actually, I'd say that I'm spiritually richer, too, thanks to the reading I've done, and the insight and experience I've gained over this last year, and the people I've met.  I'm grateful for these things, but at what a cost, you know?

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Thanking people who reached out to us, seeing more of my friends.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

I wish I could have cried less, but everything would have to change to make that possible.  So given the circumstances, I wish I would have done less fretting over not getting pregnant the moment we started trying again.  But that really wouldn't have been possible, either.  I guess I wish I would have been less hard on myself about most everything.

20. How did you spend Christmas?
In Mexico, just trying to ignore the holiday.  (And seriously, it pretty much worked--except for free mimosas, Christmas morning at the resort was much like any other morning: sunny, warm, peaceful.)

21. Did you fall in love in 2011? I fell more in love with my husband than I would have thought possible.

22. What was your favorite TV program?
Dexter and 30 Rock

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Nope.  But maybe only because my energy level is still lower than normal?

24. What was the best book you read? The Hunger Games.  The whole trilogy, really.  And I got really absorbed in State of Wonder by Ann Patchett and The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
 love the new Miranda Lambert album

26. What did you want and get? this needs an entire post of its own... 

27. What did you want and not get? Eliza.

28. What was your favorite film of this year? Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II, Sarah's Key, and Midnight in Paris

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I cried.  I sniffled and sobbed my way through refinishing and painting a console table for our entry way.  David got home from work and dragged me out to have Mexican for dinner.  Then we went to see HP but NOT because it was my birthday, just because we wanted to see the movie and I needed a distraction. I was 31 and I felt so incredibly old and so incredibly sad.  It was one of the worst days of my life.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
We'll go with the obvious:  Eliza.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2009?Half-Assed Attempt to Look Like a Professional, Mostly Too Sad and Tired to Care Very Much

32. What kept you sane?

David. My parents and brother.  E-mails from friends.  Monthly dinners with my girls.  The kindness of online strangers.  The optimism of my doctors.  (Sanity still potentially in flux, however.)

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Prince William, of course.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?

I was less involved/informed about politics this year than I've been since college.  And I was so wrapped up in my own grief, I found very little to be "stirring."  The Republican primary makes me grind my teeth, though.  I'm just saying.

35. Who did you miss?

Eliza.  More than anything or anyone, ever.  

36. Who was the best new person you met?

In person--Brandy and Angie and another Brooke.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011.

I've learned you can survive what you assumed was unsurvivable.  In fact, you can survive things you never wanted to survive.  I've learned there are people in this world who make life worth living, even when your heart has been shredded.  And here's a secret:  Almost everyone is carrying a burden of grief in some shape or size, and that's part of what connects us as human beings.  As I said last year, these are valuable life lessons, but none of these lessons is worth what it cost for me to learn them. 

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

This Groove Armada song, "Hands of Time."  It's on my Eliza playlist and it's just exactly true.  

Keep looking through the window pane
Just trying to see through the pouring rain
It's hearing your name, hearing your name.
I never really felt quite the same
Since I've lost what I had to gain
No one to blame, no one to blame.
Seems to me, can't turn back the hands of time.

I'm relieved and somewhat astonished that the end of 2011 has left me in a much better place than I was at the end of 2010.  But there's still more sadness in my life than I could have ever imagined.  I love and miss Eliza as much as ever.  I also have clear priorities, a real appreciation for the good things in my life, and a desperate hope that 2012 will bring us better luck and happier days.  Wishing all the same for you and yours.


  1. I agree about learning so many things and meeting so many people that I'm grateful for - all of which I'd trade in a heartbeat for my son.

    Wishing you lots of happiness in 2012.

  2. I wish for you to have a big, chubby, stinkingly adorable baby in 2012.

    I'm so thankful for the people I've met this year, and the people I've cut from my life as well. :)

  3. You deserve every happiness in 2012!

  4. wishing you nothing but happiness in 2012 dear friend. thinking of Eliza always...

  5. Happy New Year Brooke.. and thanks for sharing.. sending light my friend..

  6. I love your questions. I considered trying to answer them myself. Many of my answers match yours. I hope we both get our rainbow babies in 2012. I am so grateful for you. I am sorry we had to meet this way but am so thankful for having you here. If we must travel the road of grief, why not together? I am hopeful for 2012. I can't help but hope. What else is there to do but believe and hope that things will be brighter, be better. New years eve is my favorite holiday. I'm not feeling very celebratory but if there ever was a time to look for hope. This is it.

  7. Happy new year, Brooke. I hope the years keep on getting better & better for you.

  8. I agree, good riddance 2011! I never imagined a year could contain SO much grief, but it did and we survived the unimaginable...lucky us?!?! Ugh. I know the grif won't go away in 2012, but I do have hope that this year won't mirror last too closely (I hope). Here's to 2012 sucking less than 2011!

  9. Hi Brooke,

    I just recently found your blog and wanted to say hello and wish you the best for 2012. I, too, am saying good riddance to 2011, as it was filled with infertility and disappointment for me. I am so sorry you are entering this year without your Eliza; it is so wrong. Even though she isn't here in the way you want her to be, she is in the hearts of many who've been touched by your blog.

    I hope 2012 brings you happiness. I will be wishing for a pregnancy for both of us.

  10. We used the same title for our blog posts. So glad 2011 is over. I hope that 2012 brings you peace and a healthy baby.

  11. Finding and reading your blog has been such a rich source for me this year. All the best for 2012, and I look forward to the future post you alluded to in this one!

  12. Yep, had good riddance on my last blog and deleted it. I think people are tired of me bitching. But then again, what do I care.

    2011 was basically grief with a side of grief. Good heavens.

    Glad to watch the year in my rearview mirror and hoping for some sliver of happiness (in baby form?) for the coming year. It was absolutely lovely meeting you as well. Will definitely be seeing you again-- hopefully this year!