The red cups are back in Starbucks. The festive drinks are flowing, and there is even a wreath in the doorway. I don't usually mind these things - I work in retail after all - but today they just served as a reminder that the year is nearly up. Soon we'll be saying goodbye to 2012 and beckoning in a new year that promises amazing, exciting things. But I don't want this year to be over. This was meant to be my year. My twenty-eighth, the year my life was meant to take a leap upwards. It hasn't. This year was crappy. This year was probably the worst of my life. And I don't want it to be over because I want more of a chance for it to change. I want something good to happen, so badly. But when the first of January comes, I'll turn twenty-nine, and I'll look back and realise that life is tired, and sad, and nothing ever turns out the way you want it to.
Last New Year's Eve I saw in midnight alone in my room with my TV. I can't remember what I was watching. My brother was alone at his flat, my dad was asleep on the sofa downstairs, and my Mum was at my Grandpa's bungalow, making sure he was wearing his sleeping mask. This was a job that usually fell to my Grandma, but two weeks earlier, after a lifetime of near-perfect health, she was diagnosed with a particularly aggressive form of Leukaemia. Her illness broke my family. My Grandpa refused to wear his mask, and over time developed vascular dementia from the slow lack of oxygen to the brain. My last and enduring memories of him are not good. Four months after he passed my Grandma went into remission. My mother and I decided to take a mini-break to Holland, but on breakfast of the first day my Grandma's carer called and told us to come home. I watched my mother sit shiva for the second time that year, and it wasn't even really the summer yet.
My mother is struggling with her grief. My father isn't in the best of health. I don't want to say anything about my brother because that's a whole other story, but it's not good. I've put on weight. I discovered on facebook that one of my oldest friends got married and didn't invite me to the wedding. I'm still living at home with my parents and am struggling to work out what's going to happen next.
And now we're here. In November. And the red cups are out again at Starbucks. I'm crying as I write this. The kind of tears Sara Crewe cries in A Little Princess: silent ones behind a closed door.
Is it strange that despite this being my crappiest year on record, I don't want it to end? Because that's the feeling I have. Distinct dread that this year is ending. Maybe what I'm dreading is having to raise my hopes again. Life feels static in the gloominess, but it's comfortable. Change is frightening. Or maybe what I'm dreading is the anniversary of the leukaemia rearing it's head. It's nearly a year since everything went downhill, and it frightens me that it's been that long.
Maybe I'm anxious because I don't want my birthday cake to be Christmas pudding again - the pudding from our cancelled Christmas the week before. I've just read that last sentence back and I can't believe how morbid I sound. But it's honest. I think this year has turned me into a morbid person. Maybe this is growing up.
I'm not going to end this on an optimistic note. That's what I usually do, and that's how I like to end things. But right now it wouldn't be true. Because right now I feel like an insignificant drifting speck of nothing, and I'm hoping that sharing this with you brings me just the tiniest bit of relief.