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It's almost over

Good morning to all.  I hope that your holiday celebrations were joyous and safe!

2016 is almost over, thank goodness.  I don't know of another year that I have found so punishing in so many ways.  But let me start this discourse by expressing my sincere gratitude that no one in my family has experienced any major health issues in this tumultuous year.

I don't think I need to replay my own professional challenges in 2016.  After being unexpectedly laid off from my former employer, I was in the career market for more than six frustrating months, but am now working full-time.  So I suppose there is some recompense.

In my last post I mentioned how few Christmas cards we had received this year.  Sadly, a couple of those cards contained news of the death of 1/2 of the couple with whom we correspond.  Both of those who departed this world had experienced health challenges in the months leading up to their deaths, but that does not make it any less jarring.

And we've received endless reporting in the national media about more prominent people who have passed on during 2016, culminating in the deaths of actress and writer Carrie Fisher and, one day later, her mother, actress/singer/dancer Debbie Reynolds.  These were the latest in what seems to be an endless recitation of public figures who are no longer with us.

Since Carrie Fisher suffered a heart attack while traveling last week, I've been mentally hearing the 1970 Neil Diamond tune "Done Too Soon."  In that song, Diamond details a long list of people who died at a relatively young age, mentioning Jesus Christ, Genghis Khan and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, among others.  Makes you think a bit.

I was particularly saddened at the passing of former astronaut and Senator John Glenn, and although it's agreed universally that he lived a long and extraordinary life, we don't consider that he wouldn't always be among us.  Much like when John Wayne died in the late 70s, Glenn was an icon, a fixture in the social consciousness of people of a certain age.

I wasn't a huge fan of singer George Michael, but he died far too young at 53.  Same with Prince, passing at the age of 57.  David Bowie managed to complete an album of new music before his death from cancer early this year.  A friend of mine and I were discussing this, and it's when the figures that were important to us in our formative years begin to leave this world that we take notice.  At the ripe old age of 56, that's now starting to happen to me.

I'm saddened when I hear that a former teacher dies, though I don't always hear about it right away.  Same with parents of my friends and classmates.  It's a piece of my past that will now be missing, or at least less connected.

On the flipside, I saw a recent interview with the Dalai Lama over the weekend.  Despite being the leader of a government in exile for nearly his entire life, persecuted for his religious standing, he handles everything with grace and humor and an awareness of the world that would benefit us all.

I don't even want to go near the political landscape of this country and what 2016 brought us in that regard, except to say that the media now takes on a greater importance than ever, that we as citizens have to know and understand what's happening in Washington and at more local levels, and that we have an obligation to be as informed as possible.

Because anything can happen.

Happy new year.

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