Wednesday, December 28

Goodbye, 2005

I don’t want to end the year whining about how terrible 2005 was for me and Joe (my partner) personally. Too many mothers and fathers lost sons and daughters in Iraq; too many people lost their loved ones and their homes in the flood that engulfed New Orleans because our government was more interested in financing a duplicitous war than repairing the City’s aging levees. I could go on about the abundant tragedy that 2005 dished out around the world, but nobody needs to be reminded of those things here. I’ll leave that to those “year in review” retrospectives that the mainstream news media so love to produce. I feel compelled to point out, however, that when Joe and I look back on 2005, it will be a challenge for us not to reflect upon its many disappointments. 2005 was certainly our cruelest year.

The year got off to a bad start when the City of Boston rejected our request for a variance to restore our dilapidated carriage house, which sent us scrambling to come up with an alternative design so that we might still save the structure from collapsing into our neighbor’s yard (yes, it really is that bad). I hope that we’ll have more success with this ongoing project in 2006.

Without a doubt, though, the hardest and most painful part of 2005 was our trip to Ukraine and our failed attempt to adopt a child. A more than two-year-long process came to a bitter and disappointing end because of disingenuousness on the part of our agency and, more importantly, the corrupt Ukrainian adoption system. In Ukraine, children are a commodity, and our agency at home chose not to disclose the full details of how the process really works, depriving us of our ability to make an informed decision about our family-building endeavor.

We witnessed firsthand the widespread disillusionment felt by Ukrainians a year after taking to the streets in support of the pro-Western reformer Victor Yushenko, who ultimately won the presidency. They recognize that nothing has changed in Ukraine. They are painfully aware that it is as corrupt a country now as it ever was, perhaps worse off with capitalism than it was under the Soviet regime, though this last point is something that few Ukrainians would ever admit. It is clear, however, that capitalism has taught Ukrainians that everything and everyone in their country is for sale. For the rest of my life, when I think of Ukraine, I will think of the place that taught me firsthand just how miserable life is for a great many people.

In Ukraine, as a result of unforeseen circumstances, Joe and I did get a brief taste of parenthood. The experience, though short, transformed us; and because it was short, it devastated us. While it did not last, the family that we created there reminded us of something that conservatives, notwithstanding their lip service to family values, consistently fail to grasp, and something, admittedly, that I myself needed to (re)learn; namely, that what makes a family is love.

Perhaps like no other period of our life together so far, 2005 reminded Joe and me that sorrow and joy go together, and 2005 was not devoid of happiness; far from it. Though a very close friendship foundered, new ones began; others were nurtured, and still others were renewed. To our old friends: we love you. Thank you for helping us get through our most difficult year. To our new (and rediscovered) friends: we wonder how we lived without you for so long.

2005 witnessed the birth of my sister and brother-in-law’s second son. Their firstborn celebrated his first birthday. Watching both boys grow has been a source of great joy for Joe and me.

2005 taught Joe and me that we are more resilient than either of us realized and that we are both far stronger than each other realized. 2005 reminded us that our love for each other can get us through even the worst of times.

In spite of the hardships we endured this past year, since returning home from Ukraine Joe and I have said to each other many times that we share a good life together. We meant it. It was not some empty cliché we invoked to mask our misery. What we went through in Ukraine was awful, but we lived through it and returned home to a good and comfortable and fulfilling life.

So I will say goodbye to 2005 not with a lament, but with gratitude for all of the good things that the year brought; because I think perhaps the greatest lesson 2005 taught us is that while the world is a cold and cruel place for a great many people, if for even a second Joe and I are tempted to indulge our sense of collective self-pity and include ourselves in that lot, we should think again.

The top image shows the domes of the main cathedral in Kiev’s Pecherska Monastery complex. The bottom image is a small 7 x 10 inch stained glass panel that I gave Joe for Christmas. I plan to drink much more wine in 2006.

3 Comments:

Anonymous dr miguelito said...

Sandouri Dean,
Your goodbye brought tears to my eyes. We do live in a mean, cruel world, and many of the events of 2005 remind me of that. If anything causes my faith in a higher being to waver and choke, it is that two kind and generous souls like yourselves could be denied the joys of parenthood. The idea that a child might suffer abuse and neglect when they could instead join the love-rich household that I know you can offer just makes me angry and sick. It's not right, and I honestly hope that anyone who would think to choose a dollar amount over a child's happiness finds a suitably ugly and miserable fate awaiting them in the after-life.

Though a cruel world makes us all have doubts, there is no question in my mind that you two are among the most beautiful to walk this dark earth. Generosity, love, and support like you offer your friends, family and community is so rare that I honestly cannot think of ever encountering it before you. It's an amazing thing to be part of--and something that I, selfishly, will never give up being part of.....

On a personal note, though you may not realize it, the support and love you've offered me in these years, even through our ups and downs and spats and separations, has centered me in this world and in my life, and always made me realize that not matter how bad things might get when I am out there on my own, I could find a loving home in Hyde Park, MA in which to be myself and be accepted for who I am. That means more to me than ANYTHING in the whole world, though I may not always express it well. I hope you'll know that good times and bad, I will be there for my Hyde Park family when they need me.

Before I risk sounding like a Celine Dion song, amidst all of the ugliness, I think you'll/we'll find a way to make 2006 a beautiful year.

Much love and respect,

12:23 PM  
Blogger Marcelo Daniel said...

¡Adios 2005! What a bad year for lots: tsunami, hurricanes, earthquakes, wars, and personal battles we each faced. Adios, adios, y adios. In Euador, where I was born, people burn effigies representing the bad elements of the Old Year (curiously, George Bush effigies have become popular the past few years). Would be nice to burn some of those bad memories away.

Hope to see more of you and Joe in 2006. Espero que el 2006 les traigan a Uds. mucha felizidad, y al resto del mundo la paz.

5:39 PM  
Blogger Gutch said...

Yes it's been a cruel and even unfair 2005. Good riddance!

Lets look towards 2006 with renewed hope. Greetings from Singapore... ie 400 Kms from where more than 200k people perished!!

10:21 PM  

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