I don’t normally do review posts like this, but today I somehow feel it’s necessary.

I’m tempted to say ‘good riddance’ to 2014; the last 12 months (plus a few days at the back end of 2013) have possible been the worst of my life, filled with such depths of sadness as they were, not to mention other rocky patches I stumbled through during their course.

But that’s not the nature of this blog and it’s not my nature either. I may be wallowing in sadness a little longer than I usually might, but I’m not one to rail against the world. I don’t believe in a world with no redeeming features and I’ve continued to try to find life’s little silver linings, to smile through it all.

In that spirit:

This year I lost 4 friends:

Kerry was a friend I first filmed in 2012 who told her story so eloquently and beautifully it even made me tear up, which is tough for someone who has seen and lived through so many stories of life with CF.

Anders was a distant but no less sturdy rock for me when I needed support. Twice, when I was having a rough patch and knowing that I had zero music knowledge, Anders made me a mix tape (on CD) and sent it down for me to stick on to keep me tuned into the world around me.

Emily was the friend who was always one step ahead of me.

And Eugenie was someone who seemed never to ask anything of anyone in life, to offer nothing but her heartfelt support, love and affection to everyone she came into contact with, and to find out today that she’s no longer with us is almost too much for me to bear.

This year I saw my niece turn 1:

Isla is everything I could have dreamt of in a new niece, the perfect addition to the growing cadre of nieces and nephews that light up our life. And she’s the niece I never thought I’d see and, without the kindness of one person and their family, I never would have.

This year I lost my way:

Halfway through the year, after losing three friends in 4 months (Gareth, Kerry and Anders), I didn’t know what to do with myself and everything seemed a bit pointless. But having my wife at my side to guide and support me, not to mention my wonderful colleagues at World Vision, I got through the tough times and found my way again. Unfortunately for my colleagues (or fortunately, depending on your point of view…), it would be elsewhere.

This year I found a new home:

When I saw a job description looking for a master storyteller to join the charity whose work over the last 50 years is largely responsible for me being here today, it felt utterly perfect. How could I not put my name forward for it? Again, thanks to encouragement and support from my wonderful wife, I applied, was interviewed and was given the job. What a way to give back to the people who’ve helped me be here and what a way to help pave the way to a brighter future for all those going through what I went through.

This year I learned how to make mistakes (and recover from them):

K and I upped sticks to move to St Albans to be closer to the CF Trust office in Bromley and make the commute a little easier. We found a lovely little flat at the top of the high street and roped in a cohort of friends and family members to help us shift all our stuff from our 4-bed house to our 2-bed flat.

And then we realised how big a mistake we had made. We were miserable, and making each other miserable. So we reversed our decision. Quickly and quietly we gathered our things and five weeks after we’d moved out, we took ourselves back to our lovely Wellingborough dwelling and I discovered that a longer commute is worth the time if you come back to a place that feels like home.

This year I learned that grief is all-consuming, but that it will pass:

From moment to moment I’m am still struck by enormous pangs of pain in missing Gareth, who was such a big part of our lives and whom we loved so much. And as each death this year has started to mount up it’s become harder and harder to take.

But as I sit here and hope upon hope that 2015 will be kinder to us and to our friends and to our family than 2013 and 2014 have been, I recognise that all these things are fleeting. More importantly, all these things, these experiences, are what make us who we are, are what make me who I am and are what make each and every moment we share with the people we love most the most important moments of our lives.

Hug your loved ones close in 2015, and give thanks for the time we have with them. And if they are no longer here to hug, raise a glass and a smile for the light they brought, not for the shadow that remains in their wake.

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