Come on, Mr. Frodo. I can’t carry it for you, but I can carry you!
-Samwise Gamgee, The Lord of the Rings
This is, first and foremost, a continuation of the “Open Christmas Letter” I wrote last year. Or a sequel, if you will. It’s not the happiest warm fuzzy Christmas letter – hopefully I’ll get to write one of those one day – but it is as “from the heart” as they come.
2018 has been a long year for me, and it hasn’t always been kind. Where 2017 was a year of healing, recovery, and the excitement of new beginnings, 2018 has been a year of unwanted endings, physical and emotional struggle, and the growing pains of transition.
This year, I got my heart broken. Again. Twice. Or… maybe three times, I’m not sure exactly, it’s a little hazy. I got my foot broken… just once, but in “more than five pieces.” None of this pain comes even close to what came before but… it still hurt. It was still hard.
This year, I got divorced. I got discouraged. I got lonely. I got… lost, almost. I said goodbye too many times, and I don’t think I said enough hellos to balance it.
And yet, this year, like last year… I kept going. I kept climbing. I’ve been ascending this mountain of “rebuilding” for just over two years now, hiking this path through grief, fear, loneliness, and many more obstacles, from the ashes of a tragedy I still feel amazed I even survived.
I kept climbing, broken foot and all, and I am FINALLY starting to feel like I’m almost there… like very soon, I’ll be able to see the view I’ve been hiking and stumbling and sometimes barely crawling towards. But as with any serious mountain hike – when you get that close, you feel excited, but also so, so tired… and that’s where I’m at right now, and where I’ve been for much of the year.
It’s precisely as in The Lord of the Rings when (spoiler alert) Frodo and Sam are climbing Mt. Doom, after overcoming unimaginable odds, they are SO CLOSE but Frodo is so worn out and discouraged he can’t go a single step farther. And Sam… good, loyal, brave Samwise Gamgee says those famous words, “I can’t carry the ring for you, Mr. Frodo, but I CAN CARRY YOU.”
There have been so many Sams in my life this year. So many people who’ve helped me get a little farther when I didn’t have the strength or courage or will to move forward on my own. Friends and family who’ve shown up – in person, by phone, or online – when I needed them most. Strangers, too, who’ve rescued me, picked me up when I’ve fallen down, pushed me up some of the steepest hills (all three of these things quite literally).
Dear friends, and family, and “strangers,” if you’ve been a Sam to me this year, thank you. Thank you so, so much. Every little bit has meant the difference for me between hope and despair. I am not there yet… but I am close. I can feel it.
Advent – the season leading up to Christmas – is traditionally a time of “waiting in anticipation.” I did not get a chocolate calendar this year to count the days to Christmas, and I’m not counting on receiving many presents, but I do feel that sense of waiting for something good. It’s so close. I can feel it.
So… Merry Christmas everyone! And to all my “Sams,” I don’t believe there is any physical gift I can give that can communicate how much I love and appreciate you all, and frankly, I could never afford to give you all the physical gifts that you would deserve. So my Christmas wish for you is that, should you ever need a Samwise Gamgee or two or ten of your own, you will be surrounded by them at just the right times, as I have been. And my Christmas wish for myself is that I can soon conclude this time of being the tragic hero in my own story… and become a Samwise Gamgee for others. Maybe even for you.
Just a few* of my “Sams” this year:
*not a complete list! ❤