So here we find ourselves in 2012 - an open road stretching in front of us, and a blank canvas waiting to be painted with new, hopefully happy, memories.
Somewhat against the flow, I've always liked January. There is something in its freshness and austerity that helps me focus my mind and I feel optimistic and hopeful about the possibilities, opportunities and chances a new year can bring. There is an excitement for me in the unknown, because while it might bring sadness it also might bring real happiness. I catch my breath in my throat as I peer round the slowly opening door, intrigued to find what might be hiding behind it.
This year I have one main resolution - and it's one I really hope I can keep. I want to be kind to myself. It sounds so simple - I am a warm person, and I spend a lot of my time loving, encouraging, coaxing, nurturing and forgiving those in the circle I have around me. For reasons I still do not entirely understand, it has been a lifelong battle to do this for myself. I am a perfectionist, a hard task master and I expect the best from myself at all times. But I am human, sometimes I don't achieve all that I envisage and sometimes I fail, and there shouldn't be anything wrong with that - I think it was Oasis who put down in music that perfection can only be found in imperfection, and I whole-heartedly agree. But I can be very critical and unforgiving of myself, which only succeeds in battering my already wavering self-esteem and taking away my confidence.
This year, when there are good times and I do well, I want to take some time to congratulate myself. And when things sometimes go wrong, as they must, I want to take some time to take care of myself. I want to be as good a friend to myself as I am to those around me. I know I am good at making others happy - so now I must learn to do this for myself.
And I think it begins well. We had a really good break over Christmas and New Year, spending quality time with loved ones and also precious moments on our own. The Boy and I are in a good place as 2012 begins. I had a few wobbly moments towards the end of 2011 - when it was hard to hear of new pregnancies and friends beginning their maternity leave - but on the whole I am mending. And I suppose that's the crux of it with loss. You can only really lose something you love, and while you may heal and move on and learn to laugh again, that loss when it comes through death is finite and can come back at any moment to tap you on the shoulder and demand to be let in.
But I accept that now. It's as it should be and the pain does pass quickly - the days where the sun shines are plentiful and the time when I find myself in the shadows is minimal. The anxiety counselling has taught me how to keep calm and keep perspective, and to try to ignore the unhelpful and paranoid thoughts which were upsetting me so much and making my grief difficult. I feel strong, and I feel happy in the here and now. And that's what counts.
Perhaps like most of the country, we are beginning the year with something of a health kick, which I think is very important for the body and soul - and also the psyche. We had a very indulgent and excessive December, and it feels right to be investing time in rest, reading, writing, healthy eating, and giving the booze a bit of a wide berth for a while. It is a test of my willpower but I remember well how much I achieved last January, how positive my mind was, and how content I was. I'm aware alcohol and I are not always the friends we should be, and January reminds me of the importance of moderation and balance. Some people need this in their lives more than others and as the years pass I realise it is vital for my well-being.
So here I am, another year older, hopefully a little wiser, and ready to jump on the roller coaster again and see what 2012 has to offer us. I hope there will be happy times - and I hope the strength that I gained last year will help me again when the times are harder. I can't help my mind wonder if the Boy and I will end the year living somewhere else, or if we might finally become the family we so want to be. But I wait patiently in today, and I let tomorrow worry about itself and come and find me in its own time.