I am not going to pretend this has been an easy year.  It hasn’t.  We have been wracked with pain, both physical and emotional.  But, it has also been a year of wonder and joy.

Dealing with this ridiculous body and constant pain is something I am not only dealing with, but have finally learned to accept.

What I haven’t been able to deal with is watching my beautiful daughter suffer with chronic pain and fatigue. We have spent this year searching for answers, and while we have found some, we haven’t found a solution.  She has been diagnosed with scoliosis, fibromyalgia and a congenital bone condition in her back.  After seeing countless doctors this year, what we haven’t found is a suitable treatment.  Seeing her struggle is heartbreaking.

Daddy has had a year of ups and downs.  His fight against multiple myeloma, hereditary cirrhosis and heart disease is nothing less than heroic.  Knowing that his precious, perfect heart was damaged by treatments needed to fight the cancer is so distressing.  I know there are times his journey has been agonizing, but he keeps fighting for Mama and for his family.

Michael and Mama are the backbone of our family and they neither are physically 100%,  but you would never know it.  They are patient and kind and make sure the rest of us live as fully as we can.

This year, yet again, we saw people who we thought would be in our lives forever, make decisions to leave us behind.  Their absence is sad and confusing, but doesn’t negate the love we felt for them or cancel the good memories they leave behind.

As depressing as I’ve made this year sound, there is one bright, shining light that made every pain, every tear worthwhile.  His name is Augustus Marshall Atkins and he is one of the most amazing little humans every to grace this planet.  He makes us all forget the shape we are in the second he enters a room.  Mama always says, “Every crow thinks their own is the blackest.”  I know that is true, but this child truly is amazing.

On Christmas morning, he was the perfect age to enter the room, spot his toys and go wild, which is what we were all expecting and looking forward to.  What this child did, was crawl into the room and see his grandparents, great-grandparents and aunts.  His face lit up and he went around the room acknowledging every single person.  I’ve never seen anything like it.  When he did go to his toys, he would hold them up and show them to everyone.  It’s astounding to see a child that young with such a kind heart.  He showers each of us with the most stunning unconditional love.

So, yes, this year has been difficult and painful. It seems there is no end in sight for that, but there is still reason to carry on.  So, we are ready for 2016.  We have each other, we have joy, we have love, and we have hope.