People keep saying that 2016 has been a horrible year. Don’t get me wrong, there has been tragedy, terror, injustice, heartache, and deep loss. And I am not making light of that. I am not going to Pollyanna my way out of the pain that has been experienced. But I refuse to write off this year as a dud, or turn a blind eye to the beautiful things that this year gifted us.
As a busy mom of five children, who crams writing into the nooks of her days and nights, I saw a powerful story written upon the 366 pages of this spin around the sun. From my office window, in our A-frame home, in the middle of Michigan, surrounded by a farming community, I saw hope trump darkness.
I watched women from around the globe rally to help refugees. Some rich, some poor, some famous, some ordinary—they reached across borders to extend hope amidst the horrible. From small donations, to opening their homes to displaced families, from retweeting to wailing in prayer, I witnessed compassion illuminate the darkness as these women refused to ignore tragedy.
I’m not tooting a horn, I’m not trying to elevate the elite, but I’m choosing to see a ray of hope in the midst of the wreckage.
Voting venues were heavily populated this election year, and while the outcome left many worried and grieving, I saw hands reach across party lines, to comfort, to listen, to try and understand the heartache. Yes, fingers were pointed, voices were raised, and hate was vomited across social media, sidewalks, and TV screens. Yet, among the stink, there were empathy sightings as those with opposing views tried to find common ground.
Lives were lost in a sea of injustice, so protestors shed light on the dark side of the streets, the clinics, and the front lines.
As a white mother, with a black son, my eyes were opened wider to matters of race and white privilege as the cries and chants of Black Lives Matter filled the screen, streets, and heart chambers. The chaos seemed to swell yet the discussions that swirled within homes, among friends, and between strangers, were a step in the right direction. The brave writing found in the hit show, This Is Us, also fostered introspection and provided a springboard for conversations about race and the human spirit.
There is much more to learn, to do, and to reconcile, yet let’s not lose the ground that has been gained as we walk together into the new year.
I turned forty this year, had my fifth child, one of my sisters got engaged, and the other became pregnant. We had friends graduate from high school and college. I had co-workers land book deals, some release their first books, and I signed with a literary agent. Through labor in delivery rooms, and labor over manuscripts, treasured babies (live and literary) were delivered in 2016. Good news surfaced as love rang and milestones were reached.
Celebrations took place, even in the wake of loss. Marriages were restored, even in the midst of pain. Good things happened, even when hope looked shrouded.
At the tail end of December, we waved goodbye to a princess (Carrie Fisher) and her regal mother (Debbie Reynolds). Back to back losses, seemed too much to bear as the curtain fell on 2016. Yet, through the lives and cinematic labors of these women, I learned two important lessons.
Even at the end, even on the heels of death, there is “hope” as Princess Leia declares at the close of the Rogue One movie. And as Debbie took her final bow as a beloved actress and mother, I couldn’t help but remember that we can sing in the rain, even when storms threaten to pelt our plans and bury our joy.
In the midst of rain and battle, we learn to fight for hope.
One of the lyrics from “Singin’ in the Rain” goes like this, “The sun’s in my heart. And I’m ready for love.” And the blind warrior from Rogue One wields it this way, “I’m one with the Force. The Force is with me.” These words are a part of the greater story written upon our hearts.
As we look back on this year, may we not overlook the beautiful moments it produced. Even in the dark, the sun still exists. Even in the midst of terrible odds, the Force of new life, goodwill, and Love is still strong.
The dark side cannot trump the hope of 2016 because we carry the light. And the darkness cannot overcome it.
Read more from Katie M. Reid at katiemreid.com