The Christmas season is not only a time for the sharing of gifts and participating in celebrations, it is also a time for remembrance. In particular, remembering previous Christmases with our loved ones that have since passed away. My thoughts therefore always linger on the many celebrations I have shared with Eugene over the years.
The act of letting go of a loved one is particularly relevant to us as a family this year. My mother-in-law, who has been ill with leukemia for some time, has been admitted to a hospice for the last few days of her life. It is always a time accompanied by mixed emotions. In the case of my mother-in-law she has had a long and healthy life with much to celebrate, including the joys of children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. However, for the family who remain behind there is always the sadness that accompanies the final farewell. Upon leaving the hospice after my last goodbye to her, the memories of my final heart-wrenching farewell to Eugene came flooding back. In a strange way it acted as affirmation of my decision to devote the last two years of my life to writing my tribute to Eugene and Pieter and their emotional journey of living with terminal cancer.
As Christmas is at the end of the calendar year, it also facilitates introspection and reflection on the year that is drawing to a close. Introspection allows us to examine our conscious thoughts and feelings and what the memories of the last year might mean to us. The act of letting go is particularly relevant to me this Christmas as the journey of writing my tribute to Eugene and Pieter is drawing to an end. It is accompanied by many emotions such as the excitement to finally see my tribute in print and to share their story with the world. However, it is also accompanied by a sense of loss, as it will no longer form a key part of my life.
I have always found the process of writing a powerful form of introspection and reflection. Since childhood I have engaged in the writing of stories and diaries as a cathartic activity and also as a means of making sense of life’s experiences and events. Looking back over the last couple of years, the journey of writing my tribute to Eugene was therefore also part of my journey of coming to terms with his loss.
Furthermore, our reflections of the past year provides us with the opportunity to select the experiences, emotions, people and events we want to let go of and those we want to take with us into the new year. The act of letting go makes way for many new opportunities and experiences the new year will undoubtedly introduce. I have always looked upon the New Year celebrations with excitement and anticipation of the unknown and the potential that awaits realization.
Such soul searching is therefore very relevant to me this year having devoted the last two years or so of my life writing my tribute to Eugene and Pieter. I need to consider the question of what my future career will entail and what shape it is likely to assume. I feel the early stirrings of a whole new career and as my career path has wandered and meandered through many landscapes over the years, it may very well be time for new scenery. The need for meaning in my activities has always been a key part of earning my living and this period of soul searching therefore has to include the meaning of any future career activities in which I might engage.
As I have reinvented myself a number of times throughout my career, it may very well be that my final gift to my brother has inadvertently taken me towards a new phase of my life. So, the time for reflection at the conclusion of a significant and important part of my life therefore contains the seeds of life-changing possibilities. I draw comfort from the following words of Carl G. Jung during this period of reflection and the act of determining the emerging shape of any future career activities.
“Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.”