I remember discussing 2017 with my co-workers. It was unanimous: That was a really bad year. I couldn’t tell you why—it’s amazing how even the most awful memories can fade away with time and tequila—but I remember hoping for a better year in 2018.
And did we get it?
All I do know is it’s been a very strange year. It started with the false ballistic missile alert and ended with me, right now, in bed with the stomach flu after recovering from pneumonia. The good thing is everything in between wasn’t worse.
We’ve survived Category 4 hurricanes heading to the Islands, freak flooding on Oʻahu and Kaua‘i, and an erupting volcano on the Big Island. But it hasn’t been all bad. Wailana Coffee Shop and Ryan’s Grill may have closed, but dozens of other restaurants opened. Several friends gave birth this year, others announced pregnancies, others got dogs (which is similar). Some got married, some got divorced (not always a bad thing), some are still happily single. Friends have changed jobs, moved away, came home. “Crazy Rich Asians” and “Thor: Ragnarok” got me excited about movies again. “Riverdale” is weirder than ever. I read a lot of books. And then there was Bruno Mars.
For me, though, it’s been a year of change and evolution. We decided to not try for #Babyfox No. 2. I left my job as food editor at HONOLULU Magazine to head the team at HAWAI‘I, a local travel pub. And I started teaching again — which left me both sleep-deprived and inspired. (I adored my students.)
But the real lesson this year is the one I seem to still be learning.
I got a message through Instagram from my pal at work, someone who knows me way too well. I shared with her — and everyone else on the group chat — that my New Year’s Eve plans had changed. “I have the stomach flu,” I wrote. “Anyone wanna hang out?”
Her response, devoid of sarcasm or snark: “Maybe you should make a resolution to take care of your health in 2019.”
This has been a long year of that. It started with some kind of ocular event in February that had one ER doctor thinking it was a seizure. And in between I’ve dealt with anxiety, depression, cancer scares and migraines. And then, in late October, I started coughing. Bronchitis. Then pneumonia. Then, now, stomach flu. All the while I’ve been caring for Landon, who’s been sick, too. I feel like I can’t catch a break with my health, that I haven’t had time to recover, to enjoy a stretch of good health. I can’t even remember not coughing. And since I’ve been so busy taking care of my family and working, at times, two jobs, I haven’t had a chance to do anything about my health. The only times I’ve been able to see the doctor is at the emergency room, when it’s gotten so bad I can’t function. And that’s when I hear it, the voice in my head emerging from the mouth of an ER doctor or nurse: “Why did you wait so long?”
It’s frustrating to start 2019 like this, sick, in bed, unable to do much more than lift the remote control to change the channel on the TV. But it’s also a good reminder of what I don’t want to do in the coming year: If all I want to do is take care of others, I can’t very well do that if I’m not healthy myself. So maybe I’ll heed the words of my Millennial friend and start focusing on my health. Because, let’s face it, no one else will.
You never know when another false ballistic missile alert may happen and I need to be ready for it.