We're already well into 2014 by now and I realise I didn't even type up a summary for 2012 - which in hindsight was a reasonably good year. Anyway, it's time to review 2013 and I think I'll do it in two parts, with this one largely focussing on what went wrong in '13 - really, I shouldn't have expected anything else considering the (superstitiously) unlucky number 13.
I know we're in a time where everyone tends to exaggerate but I think I can definitely say that 2013 was the worst year I've experienced, if not in a long time, ever. While there were certainly some highlights with travel - starting the year with the in-laws in Victoria, the first time I've spent New Year's out of Sydney since I migrated here in 1990, a return to Melbourne for the Australian Open and what felt like a well deserved holiday to Hawaii in July/August, these were overshadowed by 2013's second half which is difficult to look back on favourably.
In the middle of May I took the brave step into a new job. This would prove to be quite a decision for me, stepping away from a team I had come to know over the past 6 years in favour of a new challenge. The challenge would be much tougher than I could expect and while I have to look for the positives in the move, it hasn't helped that life had other plans for me during this transition and support for me during this time hasn't always been there or available.
While my Grandfather from my mother's side made his 94th birthday in April, things took a turn in June/July when he fell quite ill. Family from Hong Kong and America came to visit but he sadly passed away, seemingly quite peacefully in July. He was the first close family member I'd lost. My last memory of him was wishing us well when we had visited him, concerned about his health. He told us all to go home because it was late, that we needed rest/sleep and that he would be fine. To be honest, I wasn't sure how to react and I even found it hard to emote until his funeral and the realisation that he was actually gone.
After we returned from our Hawaii trip in August, my wife fell quite ill and was hospitalised on the recommendation of a doctor she had gone to see. This was quite a difficult four weeks which saw her go through different phases as they experimented with medication but this lead to an eventual recovery. I did my best to cope myself while visiting pretty much every day to be at her side and make sure she was okay. Family and friends made similar commitments as we were all quite concerned but glad when she was finally allowed out. However, I couldn't know that the aftermath from her stay in hospital would have a longer lasting effect on me... Once again, finding the right support was difficult at times but I am thankful for the friends and family who offered whatever they could to help me help her.
Just when I thought things might get back on track, I received more sad news in December that a friend I had known for a good 15 years via email and social media (and had the fortune of meeting when he visited Sydney) had taken his own life. This was deeply saddening for both my wife and I as we both met him when he visited a few years ago and we considered him quite a good friend as he was always there with advice for us when we needed. He was a fan of sci-fi just like myself which was our common ground. He had gone through so much in his life and while I knew things weren't perfect, it still came as quite a shock to find out what had happened. We had always intended to return the favour and visit him in his home country, Germany - sadly our reunion will never be able to happen.
As if the year hadn't dealt enough blows, a good friend of mine lost her father to illness late in the year and another friend's marriage was on its way towards separation come Christmas time.
I'm sure there are people who have had worse times than I - but 2013 certainly ranks up there as a stinker that should be forgotten. I like to think that I'm normally pretty optimistic when it comes to looking back on the years but I can only hope that 2014 will be an improvement. I'll be doing what I can - but there are just some matters that are out of our control.
I'll hope to raise the mood a bit in the next post.