As I write this, there are about 65 hours left in 2016. I've never longed for a year to be over so desperately in my entire life.
2016 was the worst year I've ever experienced. In all fairness, it started in late 2015 but 2016 took that banner and ran like it was the Olympic torch, dripping flames and obliterating everything in its path.
Everyone I can think of experienced some sort of major life upheaval this past year. Something terrible happened to almost everyone I know on a personal level: loss of loved ones, involuntary job changes, car accidents, health crisis, the list just keeps going.
So, when I say this was my worst year, it has nothing to do with celebrity deaths or the train wreck of the election. It has to do with my battered heart.
I lost five people between March and August, including my mother, my cousin, two fellow teachers and my childhood best friend's little sister.
Five people who weren't images on a screen or stories in the grocery checkout line but part of my life at one point or another. Five people very real people that I had taken care of, laughed with and prayed for. And, that is just a small part of how (as we like to say in Texas) everything went to hell in a hand basket.
Here is something I know: it's not the year. 2016 is an arbitrary number that we use to measure time for our own planning purposes. I know it has no real meaning.
So, why am I so excited for it to be over?
Because we need a place to mark the end.
For those of us emotionally destroyed by the last 364 days (give or take a few), midnight on Saturday is a symbolic finish line. We are limping toward that ribbon, carrying each other, using what little strength we have in reserve to drag those who are barely holding on.
We're going to make it. We can see the end. Just a few more steps and we can be assured the monsters of 2016 didn't win and they can't now because at 12:01 AM on January 1, 2017 when we collapse on the other side of that arbitrary designation, those monsters are bound to the past.
They have to be. Have. To. Be. Because some of us can't bear to keep pushing forward if they aren't. We crave respite from the battle and restoration in our faith.
2017 is a thick, white starting line of hope.
We've made it through.
This is where things start looking up.