My best friend of over 25 years recently moved away. Far away. We’ve had a year to get used to the idea or “mourn” as we jokingly said, but as the moving date got closer it didn’t get easier. Over the years, Linda and I drank gallons of coffee, jogged hundreds of miles, cried till there were no tears left, and laughed till we made fools of ourselves. Although I know I can hop on a plane and visit, it will never be the same. I never had a friend like Linda before, and I know I never will, and yes, I know all about how the only thing that’s changed is where she lives. Still, one year is not enough time to prepare for something as difficult as this.

We recently visited my sister-in-law in Tennessee who has pancreatic cancer. Sandy is a wonderful, courageous person who buried her mother (and my husband’s) two years ago and her son a year ago. In addition, she had valiantly coped with an accident that this same son survived about 12 years ago, but which left him brain-damaged, and she is also helping her current husband struggle with what is probably the onset of Alzheimer’s. A six- to eighteen-month prognosis is not enough time to prepare for what might be a final goodbye.

My daughter and her husband, the parents of three beautiful sons, announced at Thanksgiving that they are expecting baby number four in June. Her oldest son, Ty, will be six, the day after the baby is due. Tracy and Todd are wonderful parents, and while they share the same joys and sorrows of any parents, they anxiously await the birth of this child, although other people’s reactions are somewhat mixed at the thought of four children, ages six and under. Although we tease her about “thinking pink,” we would certainly welcome another grandson, but six months seems like a long time to wait to find out!

Obviously, the new year is going to be one of mixed emotions for my husband and me. While I dread the changes that some of these events might bring to our lives, I welcome others with open arms. But the older I get, the more I realize that life sometimes has a way of interfering with living, and while we’d all love to be in control of so much in our lives, we really just have to accept the hand life deals us, as difficult as that might be. As my husband summarizes it, “Sometimes you get the bear. Sometimes the bear gets you!”

Change can be good for the soul even when it’s hard, whether it helps you reprioritize things in your life, reaffirms your commitment to your beliefs, or makes you stronger for having survived it. So it is with writing. While much of it can be monotonous, discouraging, or simply hard work, so much can be rewarding, invigorating, or satisfying.

Whatever 2005 brings for you, I hope for all of you that the majority of it is positive. But even if you face adversity as we all must at one time or another, when the dust finally settles, I hope you come through it with your energy recharged, your spirit refreshed, and your hopes renewed. Write on!