Auld Lang Syne

The last day of 2016 is appropriately dreary here with rain and a damp chill.  Just the thing to reinforce a melancholy mood or at least induce a good nap.  All around it seems every media outlet has complied their list of notables that we have lost in 2016.  This is as it should be.  These shared lists run to actors and singers and other entertainers.  Too seldom do they list the heroes whose names are not written on stars in the sidewalk but who made a real difference in someone’s life.  Pity, that.  We need to be reminded of heroes more.

Many of us take a cup of kindness yet to remember those who have departed that will never show up a list of ‘notables’ except in our hearts.  Family and friends no longer with us who shared themselves in uncountable ways.  Faces no longer to be seen except in old photographs or their digital cousins.  Voices ditto no longer shared fresh daily but sometimes played back from a recording.  Quiet stillness everywhere but always alive in our hearts.

It is now commonplace to remind one another that no one ever ‘gets over’ a loss, but that time can fade the pain somewhat.  For those who have lost a loved one this year, that anesthetic has scarce effect.

So at the end of the year, in melancholy fashion, it is right and proper to remember those departed so dear to us.  Tomorrow will dawn a new and bright new year full of promise and fears; how that will turn out depends on us.  Tomorrow resolve to hug those dear to you a little tighter; to make on new occasions memories that will remain fragrant through the years no matter what else may come.

“Will the circle be unbroken,

by and by Lord, by and by?

One by one their seats were emptied.

One by one they went away.

Now the family is parted.

Will it be complete one day?”

About waynehale

Wayne Hale is retired from NASA after 32 years. In his career he was the Space Shuttle Program Manager or Deputy for 5 years, a Space Shuttle Flight Director for 40 missions, and is currently a consultant and full time grandpa. He is available for speaking engagements through Special Aerospace Services.
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6 Responses to Auld Lang Syne

  1. Beth says:

    Thank you, Wayne. Here is hoping, as in each year, we make the coming year better than the previous.

  2. Aaron C says:

    Great post!

    I hope 2017 brings you happiness & good health!

    I look forward to your 2017 posts…which or often sobering, thought provoking, and inspiring.

    – Aaron

  3. Tony Jobusch says:

    Thank You Wayne for finding the words I could not. From Colonel Glenn to my four legged forever friend Ziggy the list is even more personal to me this year. Thank you too for your blog. Comforting to hear from you all year long always it seems at the right time. As the Safety Director for an Airline I look to your professional blogs for support and inspiration constantly as well as your more personal ones. Best to you and all of us in 2017. Ad astra per aspera, and God Speed to our real hero’s who left too soon this year.

  4. Kansan52 says:

    Thank you.

  5. cyyoung99 says:

    Hear, Hear! Thank you for sharing Wayne.

  6. Dave H. says:

    “Now the family is parted.

    Will it be complete one day?”

    Wayne, I’m going to take a leap of faith and assume that at your age, you’re perhaps ready for more…
    My father passed December 27, 1997. A few months after my mother followed him in April 2005, I began falling into the well of depression. I couldn’t stop it and it was beginning to affect everyone in my life. I felt offended; it was MY mother, not theirs.

    One night in May I dreamt about sitting on a concrete bench in a beautiful garden. I knew where I was and began weeping. A young woman walked towards me and asked me why I was weeping. “I know where I am, and want to see my parents”, I said. She said “You cannot see them now, but you will all be a family again someday.” I said “But I miss them so much” and began weeping again. She walked in front of me, took my hands in hers, and said “Look at me. You can’t do this to yourself. Your finest hour is still before you.”

    When I awoke, I found that the terrible grip of depression had been released and I was able to go on. It would take a little over five years before my “finest hour” manifested itself. I didn’t understand it but I never forgot the message either.

    Last year I said farewell to one family member and two colleagues at previous jobs.

    We will all be a family again someday, Wayne.
    As long as they live in our memories, they’re never truly dead.

    It’s good to look in the rear-view mirror from time to time, but our direction of travel is seen by looking forward. Have a great 2017.

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