2021, Looking Back

Dear Loved Ones,

I am doing well, but surprised how hard various anniversaries are. October, the month leading up to the anniversary of Paul’s death was difficult. However, Dec 2, the 4th anniversary of his funeral, I had a grief orgy that overwhelmed me in its intensity. Whew! What a relief when that was over. 99% of the time I am fine, but that 1% is a doozy! 99% of the time I am joyfully traveling to visit family, spending time with friends, providing daycare for Caroline and Emelia, walking, hiking, kayaking, painting, reading, painting, engaged with grandchildren, and experiencing joy and gratitude for my life here in Summit County and the world. The Community Dinner continues to serve a hot meal every Tuesday to all comers, 170,000 to date. A fabulous team of volunteers keeps it humming. In its 12 years we have never missed a single Tuesday, not even during Covid. Continued my reading on justice issues and was so affected by Broke in America: Seeing, Understanding and Ending US poverty that I am working to make it a county wide reading project. We will have a forum to discuss the topics raised in early spring in hopes of addressing some of the issues facing our workforce. Still running Paul’s property management business while serving on the board of Treetop Child Advocacy Center. I am feeling such a return to my “pre Paul’s death” energy level and lucidity that I have also begun seeing clients on a part time basis. (deborahhage.com) There is no end to traumatized children and families! So great to be alive and feeling a part of the world again.

Began the year in Puerto Rico with Amy and Kevin Smits who mentored me every week for almost 3 years on how to keep my life on track after Paul’s death. April hiked in Sonoran Desert and Sedona with Rebecca, Alexandra and friend Elizabeth. Went to Ixtapa with friends in June. The family spent a week in July at a friend’s beach compound in Maine with kids and grandkids. Lobster fishing, beach combing, hiking in Acadia….so much fun to spend time together. August gathered to clean the highway for the 30th year! Ended the year with Cirque du Solei/Zoo lights in Houston with Jonathan Alejandro, Thanksgiving and hiking the Billy Goat Trail along the Potomac with Rebecca in Silver Spring, MD. Lastly Christmas in Sun City with Judy (Paul’s sister) and her husband Bruce. J Alejandro’s airline, United, keeps me feeling safe traveling. Vaccinated and masked. COVID has not kept me home.

By the time you get this, the James Webb Space Telescope will have launched. Rebecca has spent 11 years as a structural dynamics engineer on this project. We will all be watching with bated breath waiting for it to successfully deploy the sun shield and activate the deep space telescope and camera. Alexandra’s life (16) is much less stressful. Glad to be back in the classroom Junior year, playing softball, whimsically changing her hair color, wonderful circle of friends, throwing people around in jujitsu. Life is good.

J. Alejandro, flying for United, father of two cats, is selling masks as fast as he can make them. He specializes in unique, seasonal and sports team themes and can’t keep ahead of demand. Volleyball and playing his flute in a pride band and at the Catholic church for masses, weddings and funerals give him a great deal of pleasure. He and his partner, Guillermo, spend time at a thrift store run by a mission for homeless women, Guillermo as staff and Alejandro as volunteer. They have abundant lives.

Matthew, pilot/Search and Rescue Coordinator and Becky, pharmacist are creating an amazing life of abundance, joy and love for Caroline and Emelia (4). Sunday night is homemade pizza and a movie night and we get together often for that. Travel, dance, park, bike riding, swimming, tumbling, soccer…..a whirlwind of stimulation interspersed with stretches of free play the likes of which only twins can create.

Rachel and Kellie are in Las Vegas, creating the same life of abundance, joy and love for Derek (16) and Derek (10). Teaching sociology is creative and rewarding for both of them. However spending time with the boys in sports, music and homeschool is the focus.

Ruben and the Mtn Lyon Café are inextricably bound together. He has worked there 31 years, moving from busser to main line cook. Nonetheless, it is just his job. His focus is on spending time with Cassie, her boyfriend Dillon, both high school seniors/college freshmen, and his girlfriend Stana.

Jamie, a successful cook in a nice restaurant, where the chef appreciates his skill so much he has incorporated several of Jamie’s recipes into the menu, works 40 – 50 hours a week. He has no vices, does not drink, use drugs, or gamble. He is paid well enough for the industry. Yet…..he lives in his car. Seriously. What state and national, tax and economic issues create a situation like this where a man working full time cannot afford rent?

Jesse lives in his car as well, however, his addictions and depression (which one caused the other?) keep him from the mental and emotional stability required to work. Society has little sympathy for him, despite not being able to protect him from early childhood abuse and neglect. His life demonstrates a huge gap in the safety net for the mentally ill.

Robert, on the other hand, who ran away from his residential facility the week after Paul’s funeral 4 years ago, was identified as mentally and emotionally incompetent by Washington State. He is currently in a psychiatric hospital where they hope to transition him to a home where his medications can be managed and he can have a small amount of freedom. Robert is being treated humanely while Jesse flounders.

Amber and her husband Justin are doing well, both working full time. Their son, Dexter, 4, struggles with speech. He is supposed to be in Head Start but there is no room. Due to a genetic bone disease his baby teeth are rotten almost to the gums. Did I say? Must I repeat???? Both parents work full time at minimum wage! Yes, they are living in an apartment (though they have to rent out one of their two bedrooms in order to do so) yet they cannot afford, and their employers do not provide, health insurance.

We are all living in and observing the in-between, a gap growing larger and larger, that space between personal abundance and those who are neglected by the most successful economy in the world. As you can see, it is all being played out in my family and other families all over the country.

While some people thought the topic of the year was the pandemic, for me, it was racial injustice. I was reminded of the various churches of my childhood. Who knew? All those many years ago. Sun streaming through church windows, creating mesmerizing colors and patterns. Radiating peace. Now this beautiful artistic creation is the underpinning of discord and violence. So many of us, innocently sitting week after week, month after month, year after year, decade after decade, beneath this window, or one like it. Forming the indelible impression that Jesus was white. What a shock to know Jesus was Middle Eastern! “Strong Christian” men and women, serving in our legislatures do not get that Ilhan Omar and AOC are more kin to Jesus than they are. And….. part of the story is the wisemen giving gifts to the poor family. Rich people reaching out to a poor family? Ah…the shepherds. Jesus chose to be born among the shepherds. What was that about? Choosing to come live and work among the poor? How do we square our legislative stinginess to the poor with that part of the Christmas story? What churches did representatives and senators grow up in that taught them to disdain the poor, hungry, imprisoned, disenfranchised, minority and homeless? All part of the Jesus journey. Their “church” wouldn’t have been one that Jesus recognized! But they sure will create a great Nativity scene in front!!!!!

2021 was a good year for me filled with family, friends, good health and abundance in all I desired. My goal for 2022 is to help others obtain the abundance I take for granted. Food for me, food for others. Home for me, home for others. Health care for me and health care for others. Justice for me, justice for others. There is enough. There is enough. There is enough.

Love, Deb