This has honestly been a very difficult year and I'll have no problem viewing it in my rearview mirror. Believe me when I say that I am well aware that I am not alone in this feeling and there are millions in the world who've had a much worse year. But as one of my best friends always says, "the suffering of others doesn't diminish what you're feeling".

I also am very grateful for what I have in my life, two loving siblings, a brother-in-law, and nephew I adore, and a tight circle of friends who quite literally keep me from letting my thoughts wander into dark places from which I might not return.

But that is one of the major issues with the last year. These same beloved humans have all experienced occurrences ranging from merely life-altering to life-devastating. In essence, it's not so much about me, but when my family and friends hurt, I hurt.

My melancholy has been building since April when my last beautiful German Shepherd, Bella, died suddenly, turbulently and completely unexpectedly from an undiagnosed aneurysm. A family reunion on the Northwest coast was altered by my BFF Georgie's hip surgery and me coming home with a head-spinning, nausea-inducing case of vertigo, which still plagues me from time-to-time.

This past summer, one of the most loving, loyal, funny and smart animals which God ever put on this earth, my cat, Cece Pea died. This second loss of a beloved pet within a year, tore a hole in my little universe.

My wonderful brother-in-law Jon lost his job with a large bookstore company after a 35-year career because he was highly-paid and over the desired age of most of their managers. (I know what you're thinking, but you try to prove it.) 

He had just gotten the best job review of his career as a manager and a large bonus. So the bewilderment of the situation only adds to his suffering. He continues searching for work, but months later, at his "advanced age", he has had no luck.

This is an absolutely heart-breaking situation being faced by many seniors in our country. But when it comes knocking on your family's door, the pain is nearly unbearable.

Finally, this fall, another of my closest friend's parents both received ominous health diagnoses. It has only served to make me realize how much I love them and miss my own parents, who I lost long ago.

This may come off sounding like a sob-story, "queen-for-a-day", litany of a soap opera, so I deeply apologize. That is not my intention at all. It is simply my long-winded, emotional way of saying, I will have no trouble bidding adieu to this vexing year and am hoping and praying for better times ahead for us all.

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