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Slices of Life: Reflections on 2021, stepping forward to '22

In so many ways, this column kept me going. Kind messages and emails from readers kept me afloat. They kept my head above water at a time when I wasn’t sure whether I’d drown or not.

Jill Pertler
Jill Pertler

It’s that time of year. Out with the old, in with the new. It would be an understatement to say that I welcome the new. It would be more of an understatement that I still mourn the old. But I’m getting there.

It’s been a year of hardship for me as well as a year of healing. Mostly healing. When I look back to last January, I can honestly say I was walking around in a complete fog. It’s a wonder I got out of bed, much less wrote columns — which I did. I didn’t miss a one.

I think meeting those deadlines helped in ways I didn’t understand at the time. They forced me to do something — anything. That, in turn got me up each morning. It made me shower and get dressed and pretend to exert some normalcy in a life that was anything but normal at the time.

People were counting on me to tap out 600 or so words each week and I think that helped to keep me going. People were counting on me — at a time when I couldn’t count on myself, when I couldn’t — or wouldn’t — do something for me, because I didn’t have it in me. I was exhausted. Beyond that, honestly.

There was no gas in the tank. I felt completely empty. Still do, sometimes, but the emptiness is slowly dissipating. The tank is slowly being replenished. It’s been a process. It is a process.

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And in the end, I have not only the growth and the renewal of my life, but I have my written words. Columns that came out of the depths of grief as well as the depths of healing and finding life anew. Columns demonstrating the miracle of hope. The miracle of the continuance of life.
My written words helped keep me alive. I’m so glad they helped others, but just as much, they helped me.

I guess what I’m trying to say is “Thank you.” In so many ways, this column kept me going. Kind messages and emails from readers kept me afloat. They kept my head above water at a time when I wasn’t sure whether I’d drown or not.

When I think about how far I’ve come, tears stream down my face. I can’t stop them and don’t think I’d want to. I’ve learned that tears can cleanse. Tears can heal. And 2021 has been a year of healing for me, as I hope it has been for others.

I hope I never have to repeat this growth, but now that I’m on the tail end of 2021, I’m glad for all the lessons, all the heartache and all the pain. Because pain can become strength. Heartache can become joy. Lessons can help you become the teacher.

I can boldly say I am not the same person I was a year ago; she is but a shadow of me. I look no different from the outside, but my inside has changed most completely.

Would I go back to my old self, my old me? I’m not sure I could anymore. When you change, you change.

Would I want to live out the life I’d planned? Yes. Of course I would. That got taken from me and that will never change. This life I am living is not what I planned; it’s what I have, still. And in looking ahead to 2022, I can say firmly and unabashedly that I look forward to the future.

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I couldn’t say that a year ago, but I can with resolute confidence now. Bring it on 2022. Let’s grow together. Let’s meet some new friends. Let’s dance and laugh and live this life.

With that, I offer a huge thanks to all of you who have made this new me possible. Your support has been life-changing. Big hugs.

Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright and author. Don’t miss a slice; follow the Slices of Life page on Facebook.

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