The year 2019 is ending, only hours remain and our reflection fills the space until the New Year arrives. For me, there were significant endings during 2019:

• I facilitated and hosted my last Carmel Death Café after five years of meeting some of the nicest, most interesting people I have had the pleasure of knowing. There was a level of candor in the Cafes that was exquisite; when people gathered to talk about the taboo subject of death it seemed to unleash a freedom to speak one’s mind and share one’s personal experiences and questions without apology or shyness. I will miss these gatherings, and I am grateful for them.

• Two good friends died this year, KT and John, who had graced my life for quite a few years with their wisdom, wit, and inspiring contributions to humanity. From KT’s Celebration of Life in the spring to John’s in November, I was reminded of our inevitable mortality and the wisdom of living life in such a way that when we take that last breath, we can celebrate the love we gave away, and the love that we received. In sadness mixed with solace, I mourn their loss while being grateful for all the memories I hold dear of these two remarkable men.

• In September, when I published my ninth book, Voices of the 21st Century: Bold, Brave, And Brilliant Women Making A Difference (a collaboration with 49 other women who each contributed a chapter), I had a sense that it was my last book. It didn’t feel sad, or lonesome, it felt like I had reached the end of that particular road, similar to how I felt when my children had grown up and left home, I was both contented and proud of the accomplishment. So it gives me pleasure to see each of the nine books that I have birthed residing on the shelf of my creative life.

As is my custom, I ended the year with meditation, and contemplation of what will be the next steps in my life’s work that will sustain my spirit, expand my horizons, and deepen my connections with fellow human beings. The word writ large across my psyche, of course, is SERVICE. I know in my bones that it is in serving others that I find my greatest joy and sense of fulfillment. The specific paths I will choose are not yet visible at this point, but I am open to discovering the adventures that lie ahead and within.

And, what is more, I am confident that there are wonderful people and illuminating experiences waiting for me, like bright stars that fill the night skies and inspire me with the mysteries of the heavens. I remember the Galileo quote offered by a palliative care doctor in one of the Death Cafes: “Though my soul may set in darkness, it will rise in perfect light, I have loved the stars too fondly, to be fearful of the night.”

For those of you who also met sadness, grief, and longing in 2019, I hold you in my heart. I offer my hope that you will find the strength to trust that light always follows the dark. In the words of poet R.M.Drake, “do not lose hope, please believe that there are a thousand beautiful things waiting for you. sunshine comes to all who feel rain.”

May our paths cross in 2020 and, until then, I send many blessings of light and love to you.