Hi. It’s been a while. Life happened; the good, the bad, the ugly, the beautiful and the downright traumatising. It’s not that I’ve had nothing to say or nothing to write about. At times, I think there’s been too much. I was just trying to catch my breath for long enough to process it all.

In all honesty, I’m not quite sure how to describe this past year. I don’t feel like there are any words accurate enough. Any descriptions I come up with are contradictory. They don’t make sense. I guess it feels like this past year doesn’t really make sense to me though, so perhaps it’s apt. But I’ll give it a go.

Traumatic but fortunate. Haunting but beautiful. Full of love, but overwhelmed with grief. Trying to embrace the new while mourning the past. Trying to forget the past while yearning for a better future. Fighting for normality whilst seeking change. Surreal.

Life changed drastically for my family after my dad’s sudden hospitalisation from a ruptured brain aneurysm and all the scary aftermath that followed at the end of 2021. The lack of resources from our healthcare system and an error on their part meant we basically had no support and very little guidance for the first several months. This whole experience has shown us just how stretched and fatigued our system and staff are, and I have nothing but gratitude and respect to those who work in this sector who are still doing their very best to help all of us in every way they can. I’m beyond grateful that he’s now doing so well, I don’t think I’d have coped with any other unthinkable outcome.

2022 has probably been the year I’ve travelled and explored the most. I’ve explored many new places and for the first time, I even did some solo trips. This is something I’m not sure I’d have had the confidence or strength to do in the past, but it’s definitely something I’ll continue to do. Perhaps when your world flips upside down, everything you’ve ever known and the dynamics you’ve grown up with suddenly change and you have to be strong for others, these things become more trivial and less daunting.

I’ve visited Las Palmas (Gran Canaria) – for my first solo trip; and also went to Paris, Rome (solo), Wroclaw and Lanzarote for the first time. Throw in weekends away to Kettlewell (North Yorkshire) and Lochgoilhead, and a day trip to London, have been fortunate enough to explore some beautiful places this year, which I’m very grateful for, and I can’t wait to continue ticking off new places in 2023.

As with every year, 2022 has been full of life lessons, new perspectives, new insights and new experiences. It’s also been full of love, loss, and tears of both laughter and grief. I’ve learned how short life is, how it can change completely and as quickly as it takes for a wave to wipe out your sandcastle on the shore.

I’ve learned the true depth of how a traumatic event can affect people. How it can change them, their perspectives, their priorities, their thought processes, their reactions, and their ability to cope with the things life throws at them, big and small. While I know this is common knowledge, along with the fact that trauma can stay with you – I even learned this in my university course some years ago – I have learnt that no one truly knows how they’ll cope or how much it will affect them until something happens to upend their world. It gives you a newfound insight and empathy to others who are facing similar situations. It rouses emotions and thoughts you may never fully understand.

But I do believe facing trauma eventually makes you stronger, more understanding, empathetic and it can force some realisations upon you. The home truths you don’t want to acknowledge creep up on you; such as, the reality that life is too short and far too precious to spend a lot of your time on things you don’t want to do, with people who don’t appreciate you or support you, and putting off or missing out on the things or people you love. You don’t get this time back. Take the damn photo even if your hair is a mess or you’ve got a stain down your jumper. It doesn’t need to be “for the ‘gram”, it can be for your own personal memories because trust me, one day you won’t be able to take that photo with that loved one and the regret will sneak in. It can be heart-warming to look back on these photos with the people you love in the future to remember those times and they can jog memories you once forgot. Even if a memory is of an insignificant moment for you, it may be one of someone else’s treasured ones.

For 2023, I plan to see more of the world (as much as my finances and work holidays will allow), make more time to do what I enjoy, spend as much time with my family and friends as possible, celebrate love with all of my friends and my cousins who are marrying their soulmates or having babies, enjoy as many snuggles as my cats will allow (even if they have to be enticed with treats), and learn to focus more on the positives, which is something I’ve always struggled with.

IT feels only fitting to end with a saying my beloved granddad used as a toast at family gatherings, since this is the first year we will be facing without him.

“Here’s the good of your blood, here’s to the good of your health. If your blood’s no good, your health’s no good so here’s to your bloody good health.”

Wishing everyone good health, happiness, love, laughter and success for 2023 and beyond.

Aimee xx

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