“The opposite of death is birth. Life has no opposite.” – Eckard Tolle

In a few days I will be flying out to Belgium to be with my brother and his children as they mourn the passing of my sister-in-law. 2012 opened with a death –my husband’s beloved mom- and now closes with another one. Like most of you, I’ve learned to navigate the grieving process as the passing years have forced me to say goodbye to both my parents and my in-laws, a couple of friends, my niece, and now my brother’s life partner. Every single death throws me off balance and brings in a new wave of past sorrows. Quite a downer on this upcoming New Year’s Eve. But does it have to be? In the same few years our family has welcomed nine new little ones, bundles of discoveries and giggles. My daughter has grown into a college freshman eager to learn and taste campus life. My son is counting the days to his learner’s permit as my husband and I laugh (mostly) while adding up our wrinkles. We’ve all made new friends. We’ve all grown and blossomed in our own way. Life has been good to us. And it’s been really tough too. It’s simply been Life, birth and death side by side in a never ending succession of smiles and tears.

The Holiday Season brings the fragility of life to the forefront, from the innocence of the baby in the manger to the absence of our departed loved ones. Surrounded by twinkling lights and presents most of us also unwrap our broken hearts. I am writing today, dear friends, to remind you –and myself- that the champagne flute or beer mug you will raise at midnight tomorrow never stops bubbling with the potential for joy, and to invite you to drink up the possibilities that lie in the mere fact that you’re breathing. I believe that death turns into the opposite of life when we rebel against it and let grief engulf us. When we lose track amidst the darkness of what drives us in the light. On this New Year’s Eve, let’s accept that while death may be the opposite of human life but it does not signal the end of Life. Because Life is our love shining through tears and shared memories. It’s our decision to savor every day and our desire to make a difference. It’s our ultimate choice to embrace birth and death as perfect partners of an imperfect journey.

We’ve all been challenged by Life. All of us. The how doesn’t much matter. What counts is the depth of the wound and, in time, of the healing. I propose a toast, my friends, to our resilience and our willingness to let love touch us, hurt us, and above all, make us whole again. May 2013 bring us the strength to face Life as it is and the blessing of loving it no matter what. From my heart to yours: our combined spirits know no opposites.

 Happy New Year!

Maryse G. Copans © 2012