My New Year entered with a whimper. I wasn’t in much of a party mood and was getting irritated by the whole ‘ring in the New Year and make it your best EVER’ announcements, so I unplugged for a couple days and did what I always do when I’m overwhelmed, under-joyed, and exhausted from the trials of life. I cleared clutter and opened space, sat quietly and moved gently, and eventually just allowed the tears to flow.

It’s amazing, really, how fast the emotions move through when you just give them space.

It’s been a rather complicated few months. Yes, my “Month of Miracles” adventure to Europe was incredible. And the 11-11-11 launch of my new book, The Miracle Keys, was a lot of fun. But woven just beneath the surface of those happy life events, my husband and I are going through one of our roughest times ever.

Friends with cancer, a child in distress, and parents losing their minds.

I don’t want that to sound trite, but the last is one of the scariest things I have ever imagined—living out my final days in a facility where old (and some not that old) people are wandering the halls without a clue where they are…or (worse) sitting staring at the TV or the walls, looking at (from all outward appearances) not much.

Moving my husband’s parents to a memory care facility was the last thing they wanted, and we tried for months to avoid it, but it finally became the thing we had to do. It hasn’t been easy. One of them needs it more than the other. Both have resisted it mightily.

Watching bodies fail can be a difficult thing, but feeling the loss of a mind while a loved one’s personality falls apart is heart breaking. I never imagined it could be this hard.

My husband tells me his heart is being ripped out, and I can see it in his eyes. I can feel it too. It’s different when it’s your own parents changing before your eyes, but I’ve known his parents for over half my life now, and it’s breaking my heart, too.

There’s a good side to letting our hearts break, especially when we open to the hurt rather than hiding from it. I’ve felt my heart grow a few sizes through this whole experience.

As with everything, there’s a beautiful side to losing minds, too. We’ve had some precious moments of laughter and wonder, and I’m capturing every one of those in my heart to remember when the loss grows even more difficult, as I know it will. Watching the way minds start to let go can actually be quite fascinating, and when we stay in a place of cherishing the simple moments rather than longing for the past, there is still much joy in the journey. (Please, let me finally learn this one in all other areas of my life, too!)

I had a BIG AHA as we were moving my in-laws for the third time in a month (on the eve of the New Year). I realized the HUGE GIFT and extreme usefulness of these precious beings that are failing in mind, body or both. Not only are they teaching patience and compassion, they are helping us learn to let go in many rather important ways. Every time I visit the memory care center, my heart is deeply touched by watching the patients and the caregivers who are devotedly attending them.

I started wondering what might happen if we treated ALL endings in life with equal respect.

What might this coming year look like if we could all slow down enough to treat every situation, welcome or not, with complete gratitude?

How might our world change if we would care for one another every day with the patience & compassion that is often reserved for the hard times?

Who would we make time for, and how would our lives change, if we knew someone we love might be leaving…or if we knew the only lasting memory was the one that is this very moment.

Just asking these questions brings me to a place of curiosity and compassion, and the whole situation feels lighter and less devastating to my nerves. I think I’ll let Curiosity and Compassion guide this year.

Wherever you happen to be with your personal New Year transitioning, I invite you to consider these questions and see what comes.

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