2019 Sucked

Fair warning: This post is a bunch of self-indulgent complaining. I've debated whether to even write it, but I'm hoping maybe it will be cathartic to put in words all of the godawful stuff that happened to me and - more importantly - my loved ones this year. I'm not in a glass-half-full kind of mood though, so I'm not holding my breath.

2019 was the worst year of my life. And that's saying something - I've had some pretty bad years prior to this too (I won't get into those, this is going to be negative enough as it is). The thing is, those previous bad years have mostly turned out okay in the long run. In some cases my problems got resolved in ways that turned out great for me. I can confidently say that won't be the case with 2019.

I'll go through the year chronologically. It just makes sense and it means I get to start with what is, in retrospect, by far the least of my worries. This one might be a bit of a cheat since one could argue it actually happened in 2018, but it didn't really take effect until 2019 so I think it counts. Plus, "2019 and the end of 2018 sucked" is a far less pithy title for the post.

In short, I lost my dream job. Again. As of 2019 my primary job responsibility is no longer OpenStack. I've already waxed poetical about OpenStack in a previous navel-gazy year-in-review blog post(note to self: clean up the spam there) so I won't repeat myself here, but suffice it to say this did not and does not make me happy. Don't get me wrong, my new team is great and I enjoy working with them, I just don't have any particular excitement about the project. I'm back to doing a job, not a passion project. It's been a hard transition and I'm honestly still struggling with it. Especially as I write this and am incredibly frustrated about how things were going at the end of the year.

But just in case I had any illusions about the relative importance of my job in the grand scheme of things, life came along and slapped me hard with some perspective. About a month into 2019, my brother and sister-in-law lost a baby 8 months into the pregnancy. This was, of course, devastating, and as much as I still get sad whenever something happens that reminds me of it, I think I'm more upset for them than I am for myself. I know that for every pang of grief I feel, they're feeling it orders of magnitude more.

I doubt that I need to convince anyone how terrible this is, but in case I do let me just say that seeing family photos with a stillborn infant is one of, if not the most heart-wrenching thing I've ever experienced. I guess it's supposed to help the family cope, but it was like a punch in the gut for me. Then again, I was somewhat detached from it until then (they didn't want a lot of people around so I wasn't there in person for any of it) and seeing the pictures was maybe the first time it was real for me.

Whatever the reason, 2019 was not off to a good start. It didn't end well either.

In late October, I got a text from my mom that they were going to stop by that night. It was Friday and my parents will sometimes visit on short notice so I didn't think much of it. Turns out this was not a simple social call. Earlier that day she had been diagnosed with cancer. At that point we didn't have a lot of details, but a few days later we got the timeline: 6 months. It has since advanced faster than they expected so it's looking like that may have been optimistic. While they're doing the best they can to keep her comfortable, her condition continues to deteriorate rapidly. Barring a miracle, it won't be long.

I've always been close with my parents so I knew this would be hard. I just didn't expect to have to deal with it so soon. If there's a silver lining it is that I have no regrets - I've spent a lot of time with them over the years and I don't feel like I wasted any opportunities. That doesn't really help though. At most it means this could have been worse, but it doesn't make it better. And weirdly, one of the things that has really gotten to me has been when I think of all the things she loved that she'll never get to do again, like go to Disney World, or our annual family camping trip to Wyoming, or Niagara Falls (which she had to talk both my dad and me into visiting, and I'm so incredibly glad she did). By the time they figured out what was going on she was in too bad a shape to even do bucket list things anymore. Maybe it's silly, but somehow that makes it worse to me.

This is all not to say that nothing good happened this year either, but I'm afraid it pales in comparison to the bad. I would like to say that I look forward to 2020 being better, but in reality I expect 2020 to be full of fallout from 2019. This wasn't a year I will just be able to put in the rear view mirror. It's going to be with me for a long time, maybe forever. As my dad said, there are some events where you have your life before and your life after, and they're not the same. We had two of them this year.

But lest I end this on a completely downer note, I will say that I know I'll survive this. It's going to be a long, painful $TIME_PERIOD, but I'll get through it. That's life. And if there's one piece of philosophy that has helped me somewhat, it's that to lose loved ones you first have to have loved ones, and the fact that I do is no small thing. I know my mom has been comforted by the fact that we have a strong family and we'll be there for each other. She raised two kids who, if I may be so immodest, turned out pretty darn good. She touched so many lives in her time at the high school that she's having to turn people away when they want to come visit because she just doesn't have the energy to entertain company all the time. She lived well and I'm proud to be her son.

And that's my 2019 in a nutshell. If you read this far, well, you must be a glutton for punishment. And if you still have your parents, go give them a hug. Someday you'll be glad you did.