New Year's Eve, 2020

NOTE: Tomorrow's journal will appear on a new page in my website. You'll be able to follow the new year by selecting Journal 2021 from the main menu.

The last day of the year is a good day to look back on the year that has passed and ahead to the year that is yet to come. New Year’s Day is a rather arbitrary day for the beginning of the new year. Throughout history other days have been celebrated as the first day of the new year, including December 25 and March 25. Prior to the reign of the Roman king Numa Pompilius, who ruled from about 715 to 673 BCE, the Roman calendar’s official new year came in March. Numa Pompilius’ calendar revision made sense from the perspective of Roman theology since Janus was the Roman god of all beginnings. Mars was the god of war. The history gets a bit murky and January didn’t become the official start of the Roman new year until 153 BCE. In the half a millennium between Numa Pompilius and the official declaration of January 1 as New Year’s Day different people within the Roman empire celebrated the new year on different days.

The Roman calendar was adopted and revised by Christian leaders and became known as the Julian calendar. When the Christian calendar was revised by Pope Gregory January 1 was retained as the official start of the new year. There are, of course, other calendars that celebrate the new year on other days. In the Chinese calendar, New Year’s won’t be celebrated until February 12, 2021, when the year of the Ox is ushered in.

This journal, however, observes today as the last day of the year 2020 and tomorrow will be New Year’s Day. That means that a new page has been added to the web site. Regular readers of my journal will find tomorrow’s entry on the page called “Journal 2021” that is now available on the main menu. Those who have bookmarked “Journal 2020” will need to change their bookmark to continue to follow my journal. The process of setting all of this up requires uploading thousands of files as headers on pages need to be revised and the web site’s main content are my journal entries which contain more than a decade of daily essays. Getting everything sorted out so all of the links work will take a little while, so I ask my readers to be patient with my journal archives where not all essays are currently available. New essays are being uploaded every day and the archives will be back in shape soon.

In the meantime, I have had some time to reflect as I watch the computer upload files.

In our world, looking back 12 months carries some meaning, but going back 15 months seems like a better span of time to give meaning to where we now find ourselves. It was then, on the last day of September of 2019 that my wife’s heart stopped. Fortunately for us, she was a patient in the hospital at the time and was hooked up to a heart monitor. The day was dramatic, with the full code blue, crash team, CPR response. After restoring her pulse, the team transported her to the ICU where she arrested a second time. Again CPR was performed and she was connected to a ventilator. From that point, we started down the road to recovery.

One of the participants in our story is a doctor, and electrophysiologist, who was in the Intensive Care Unit when they brought in my wife. He was new to Rapid City, having been recruited by the hospital’s cardiology practice from New York where he had been practicing. My wife’s crisis was the first time he performed CPR in Rapid City. It was a day he will always remember.

Yesterday, Susan met with that doctor over telemedicine to review her condition. She wears an implanted monitor which allows her heart to be continually monitored by the cardiology team. The doctor informed her of her excellent heart health and the success of the procedure that they had performed to correct her heart rhythm problem. He also informed her that while the monitoring will continue, she no longer needs any heart medications. We start 2021 free from medicines, which seems to us to be an occasion worthy of the highest celebration. A non alcoholic toast to the future and to the people who have made it possible for us! (Alcohol can be a trigger for atrial fibrillation, so avoiding it just makes sense.)

Susan’s health is one reason that I face the new year with renewed hope. Looking back at the past 15 months I can see how far we have come. It is easy for me to express my deep gratitude to so many people, starting with the doctor who has guided her recovery. There re many others. The licensed minister who took over for me and performed a funeral on a very short notice the day that Susan’s heart stopped is a hero. I’ll never forget her compassionate visit and prayer later that day. I’m also grateful for the colleague who dropped everything and came to the hospital while I was sill waiting to hear what was happening in the ICU. And the nurse who sat with me in the waiting room and conveyed messages from the ICU before I could go to be with my wife. And our son, who booked a flight and arrived at the hospital before midnight that same day. And our daughter who came all the way from Japan with her 3 month-old-baby. And my sister and sisters in law who rushed to provide support and remained to help us through the first weeks of recovery.

There are so many others. I don’t know the names of the members of the hospital rapid response team who rushed in and saved her life. I don’t know the names of all of the nurses and aids and therapists who supported us in those first days of recovery. There is a huge cloud of witnesses who held us in prayer and provided support as we returned to our lives.

So here we are. We’ve retired. We’ve moved to a new home in a new state. And this morning Susan will get up and the only pills she will need is her vitamins. It’s not a bad way to start the new year. With faith and love, and the support of a whole lot of people, we greet a new year and a new chapter in our adventure.

Copyright (c) 2020 by Ted E. Huffman. I wrote this. If you would like to share it, please direct your friends to my web site. If you'd like permission to copy, please send me an email. Thanks!