There’s something about a new year that signals new beginnings; a chance to wipe the slate clean and cast out the old, welcoming in a shiny new year of intentions and opportunities.
Saturday night saw Adam and I host a murder mystery party for some of our much-loved friends – and it was a fantastic night spent laughing and enjoying great company. We crawled into bed at 4.30am with our faces aching from having so much fun, and we were delighted at having spent some quality time with a brilliant bunch of people who we just don’t see enough of.
Four hours later I woke to the news that Dave Hodgson, former Marketing Birmingham director and something of a twitter legend for his unfailing positivity, had lost his battle with cancer. For the past few months I’ve been inspired and horrified by Dave’s candour and overwhelming belief and determination as he’s recounted his suffering, his ups and downs, the terrible muscle wastage and effects of his treatment, and at times his utter despair. Like many, I was so impressed by his constant battling and unswerving determination to survive that I was genuinely shocked to find he’d gone. My thoughts are with his wife and daughter.
Last night, I attended the wedding of a former colleage and mentor, Linda Jones. Years ago, I had a rough 12 months (don’t we all?) and Linda was there throughout for me; she probably knows more about me than many of my friends because there’s so much of it that I’ve drawn a line under and moved on from. The whole time I worked with Linda, her devotion and adoration to her fiance Neil was unwavering, but despite a ridiculously long engagement, there was always some excuse not to get married – she was starting a business, she didn’t need a piece of paper, they already had two gorgeous twin girls and a happy family – why seal it further?
A few weeks ago I got the devastating news from Linda that Neil had been taken terribly ill. As we all do when our world is turned upside down, Linda’s priorities changed and it became vital that she make those vows and tell the people closest to her, however well they already knew it, just how much she loved him. When I received my invitation to the wedding three weeks ago I was astonished – I’d been told they’d be tying the knot in hospital. But Neil’s determination and focus meant that he wasn’t going to settle for that. He has amazed doctors with his courage and fire, and despite walking with a frame a few days ago, not only did he walk up the aisle yesterday and stand to say his vows, but he walked into the reception, greeted his guests and danced his first dance. I always cry at weddings, but last night was truly touching and I’ve had a lump in my throat and prickly eyes ever since. I wish them both a long, healthy and happy marriage.
So, it’s been a melancholy beginning to the year, but it’s made me realise that those resolutions about losing half a stone that I make every year are actually neither here nor there – what counts is that we make the most of the time we have, spend time with the people we care about, and do more things to make us better, happier people. Life is much too short to spend it on a diet, watching mind-numbing TV, saving for a rainy day that may never come, or working round the clock and cancelling every arrangement we’ve made to get that project finished – sure, we have to strive to be a success and do the best we can, but not at any cost.
So that’s what I plan to do this year – work to live, not live to work, and spend more time with those people I care about most. I spend more time tweeting people I’ve never met than I do enjoying the company of those friends I’ve built up relationships with, so in 2012, I intend to spend less time in the virtual world and more enjoying the real one.