Wednesday, December 26, 2007


It's snowing outside and the wind is whipping it up against the buildings, making my walk to the coffee shop treacherous. It's bitter and icy and it may take an additional cup of mint tea to warm me this morning.

It's time to say farewell to another year. I think it's important to set aside a little time to reflect on the events that shaped the past twelve months; they are unique and never to be repeated. Some of these happenings were filled with much joy - summer walks down by the lake, a visit from my sister and niece, weekends with my mom and dad, gatherings with the in-laws, a family vacation to Colorado, little day trips along the winding St. Croix River, skateboarding with Silvi and her metamorphosis into a vibrant young lady, fourteen years with my wife, the birth of my son, and of my nephew.

If you've spent any time with me here, you know the hardships. Hearing that my son has Down syndrome has been one of most jarring crossroads of my life, and I still feel somewhat stuck in the center of the intersection, gazing down roads that lead to places unmarked on my current map.

As these final days of 2007 disappear into history books, video clips, photo albums and faltering memories, I say goodbye to a life that once was to make room for a new path, unknown and more than a little scary. I am learning - slowly - to welcome this new life and the son whose smile wipes away all that may be lost.

It is not, and will not be easy. Annie and I argue more often, our evenings tinged by attempts to escape the ever-present responsibilities through reading or movies, or spent planning doctor's visits, coping with the growing financial burdens, and learning to help our son find his way in a world that does not really want him.

Christmas is over. To be perfectly honest, I am glad. It's hard to put on a Christmas smile when what you really want to do is escape into the darkness of a movie theater and drown your sorrows in a trough of over-buttered popcorn. There were a few moments of true joy sprinkled throughout the last few weeks: watching Silvi's face as the lights of the Holidazzle parade danced in her eyes, hearing her proclaim, "What a wonderful day!" after seeing the falling snow, Ian in his best outfit on Christmas morning, watching Scrooge (the only proper version, in my opinion) with my parents, laughing at Elf with my in-laws.

But I'm ready for the fresh start of a new year. I have many hopes for this next year; but most of all, I look forward to twelve new months with my beautiful wife and captivating daughter and son.


Elbog said...

As a pre-teen, I remember learning that Janus was symbolized by two faces, one looking backward, one forward. It was one of those moments when I became aware of deeper meanings, that a name like January was more than just a name - that greater value could often be found if one was willing to look. Your 'looking' brings me memory, a little vision, mostly encouragement. Thanks.

Gardener Greg said...

Great thought provoking blog Tom. Very well written. I found you through terri the new blogger. :)

This post reminds me of a scene from a movie where they told the "first rule of Italian driving". As he rips off the rear view mirror he says, who cares what is behind you, we are going forward.

Aunt B said...

Tom, my mom, the mom now in the Alzheimer's Unit near your Aunt Rose, told me about Janus when I was in grade school.
Thank you, Elbog, for the memory jogger. I experienced "one of those moments" also when mom explained it to me. She taught Latin at one time.
Much love to you and yours, Tommy dear. I enjoy reading your posts and feel as if we are not so far apart!

Terri said...

Oh thought-provoking. I'm looking out at the same snow Tom (I'm in the other part of your twin cities) and this cold connection makes me feel a little warmer towards you. I pray the coming year brings you just a little more energy and space and hope.

Carole said...

I love the New Year. Each time I believe wonderful things will happen and I get so excited. I am one of the few in my family--okay the only one--that still makes resolutions. And each time I do a little better at something, not everything but something. I did not know about Janus.

Kim Ayres said...

One of the most important things you can do this coming year is find time to experience moments with Annie. At times of crises, both parents are usually working full out, busy in their worlds, feeling isolated, knowing they just have to knuckle down and do their bit. But it's easy to fail to make room for you as a couple. The focus for both of you is, of course, on your children, your home, your work, your extended family and everything else the world throws at you. But it becomes too easy to lose each other right at the point that you really need each other the most.

Of course I am only talking from my own experience and it may not reflect yours in any way, but just in case...

Meanwhile I look forward to getting to know you more over the coming year :)

Anonymous said...

How sweet are you!

Tom said...

Elbog: I hadn't heard that about Janus... gives new meaning to January. Appreciate it.

Gardner Greg: Thanks for popping in. I think that could also apply to drivers in Chicago... :)

Aunt Bonnie: I had forgotten that Grandma taught Latin... and it's great to get your comments. I've enjoyed reconnecting as well.

Terri: Thanks.. and stay warm!

Carole: I stopped making resolutions a while back, but have a few for the coming year. We'll have to compare notes at the end of 2008. Happy New Year.

Kim: My wife especially appreciated your thoughts and good words, Kim. We have been a bit remiss in tending to our relationship lately. It's so easy to get swept along by the currents of busyness and taking care of the kids. Appreciate the thoughts and also look forward to another year of good conversation.

beans said...

Tom-Thanks for popping by my blog. I am honored that I can share in your journey as you learn to be with Ian in his world, and he in yours. My brother will be 37 tomorrow, and he has grown into quite the man. My own dad was recalling to me the other day the experience they had when he was born. He wasn't even a day old and the docs pleaded with them to put him away in an institution-because that would be far easier. Not only did they NOT do that, but they went on and had two other kids. Of course we are all a bit screwed up, bit who isn't, right?

I hope this new year for you is filled with love, delicious hugs, perspective, and a reminder that each and every day given is a blessing-and it is yours to find and enjoy.

I look forward to being on this side of it with you!

Anonymous said...

Ah, Scrooge. Watching that together with you was my favorite Christmas moment this year. Happy memories, and I visit those past moments more and more often these days, it seems.
Thanks, son, for the many, many happy moments you bring me.

With hope and love always,

Tom said...

Beans: Welcome to my little corner of the world... I look forward to more chats and everything 2008 brings. Would love to hear more about your own experiences with a brother (?) wit DS.

Mom: "That's the nicest thing you've ever done for me..."

Anonymous said...

"It sounds a bit bizarre, the things the way they are....." but,
Happy New Year!! Slvi, "CHEERS" as you and I clink our milk glasses together.