Thursday, December 15, 2011

Cherish moments of joy in tough times

By S. Derrickson Moore
LAS CRUCES — I'm ready for a new year and more than eager to be done with this one.
Our 2011 woes started with the January Sun-News fire that kicked us out of a building where some of us had spent almost two decades. We moved, first to the Ramada Palms ballroom and then to interim digs at 715 E. Idaho Ave.
Usually January is my least favorite month, but February was brutal. The February freeze killed many of our favorite agaves, trees and bushes.
But the vegetative devastation turned out to be a mere harbinger of the human tragedy in my circle of loved ones this year.
A dear friend lost her only grandchild, a sweet and inquisitive lad just leaving his teens. I'll always remember the time we spent on the patio of his grandmother's Mesilla adobe, when he was about 10, experimenting with my new underwater camera. He decided our best bet was to drop things in a rain barrel and try our luck. He came up with an imaginative variety of stuff to chuck in the water, while we took turns photographing splashes and submerged action shots of rocks and chile peppers and other motley subjects. His grandmother cheerfully applauded while we made a watery mess of the patio and one another.
He was a bright soul, and I wish we could have seen the man he would have become.
It was the first personal agony of 2011, but not the last.
My nephew made it back from Afghanistan, but his wife lost the child they were eagerly awaiting, just before his bittersweet return.
In the space of a few months, Grandson Alex lost three of his Idaho classmates to suicide, and then came the news of an unimaginable disaster. Two teenage amigos from his San Diego days, so close that they had continued to visit regularly after Alex moved to the Pacific Northwest, were found dead in their California home, shot by their father, who then committed suicide.
The boys were very smart, funny, creative, popular teens. Their dad was the neighborhood parent everyone reportedly felt safe leaving their kids with, a man with degrees in law and psychology.
Alex and I have talked a lot, but how can you explain to a 15-year-old what cannot be explained? I've been proud and touched to see what his generation can do with social media sites, with original music and creative explorations of the mysteries of life and death.
There have been too many untimely deaths this year, a lot of transitions, a lot of frustrations with Congress and the economy, a sense that we have taken wrong paths, that it is time — past time — for serious evaluations of what we hold dear, for new approaches and concepts and directions.
There are been stumbles — globally and personally. I took a header onto a concrete patio while photographing a festival (celebrating, ironically, beautiful and soothing lavender) and spent months regaining mobility I’d taken for granted.
I have a time-tested philosophical credo for situations of loss: For everything we willingly give up, we get something better. We can always replace things or adjust to their loss. We’re on track to finish 2012 with a brand new Sun-News building, for instance. My knee seems mostly functional again and the physical bruises have long since faded.
But my credo does not cover all situations, like the untimely and violent loss of people we love. I think of my Mesilla amiga, the parents, the grandparents, the friends and loved ones of those bright boys … and I know that though time can ease the shock and pain, there are bruises of the soul, wounds too deep to forget on this plane of existence.
The holidays can be particularly tough for those who have experienced great losses and tragedies.
We hug each other. We check in and we carry on. My big sis Sally says she thinks one of the good things about getting older is that eventually we won't mind dying because we have so many questions for God.
I have a lot of questions about 2011, and I'm eager to move on to a new year in hopes that it will bring wisdom, faith, healing and creative ways to reach out to one another, to love and comfort those who mourn.
For all of us, I pray this holiday season for a time of peace, comfort … and remembrance that the joy of love, once found and experienced, can never really die.

S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at; (575) 541-5450. To share comments, go to and click on Blogzone and Las Cruces Style.

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