It is a new year. The last time a new year dawned, Hudson was with us.
It is 2011. The last year Hudson was with us was 2010.
Yesterday, I would say, “Our daughter died earlier this year.” Now, I will say, “Our daughter died last year.”
Given all that, I’m not really sorry that I was too exhausted from jet lag to stay up and ring in the new year. Better not to be a witness to the passing of the last year we had our girl with us, I think.
And how to greet a new year in these circumstances? As I posted on Facebook yesterday, surely this year has to be better than the last. It seems there can be nowhere to go but up. And yet I feel the need to knock wood when I say that. After all, I never dreamed that what happened to us last year (really, HOW can it be “last year” already?) could happen to us after all we’d both been through already. It seems as if it would be tempting fate to be so confident in the future ever again.
As I pondered what it would mean for us to leave behind our last year with Hudson, all I could think about was a very old and haunting version of a New Year’s tradition. Auld Lang Syne, often sung on New Year’s Eve and day, is usually a high-spirited tribute to the importance of remembering old friendships (think of the final scene in It’s a Wonderful Life). But the Dave Francis/Mairi Campbell version of the original old song by James Burns from 1788 (which you may have heard in the Sex and the City movie) better captures the exquisite mix of sorrow and joy that comes with the passing of time, of days, of years, of relationships, of loved ones: the sorrow of longing for times past and for those we loved so much, and yet also the joy of the memories of those days and those beloved ones that live on always in our hearts. I did not stay up to ring in the new year without my girl, but if I had, I would have done so with this song—the very definition of our lives in this new year without Hudson is the terrible sorrow of missing her mixed with the tremendous joy of the memories of the days we had with her.
I was not familiar with the history of the song—it is based on a very old traditional song, maybe first captured in a poem from 1711. These verses from that poem particularly touched me when I read them:
My Heart is ravisht with delight,
when thee I think upon;
All Grief and Sorrow takes the flight,
and speedily is gone.
The bright resemblance of thy Face,
so fills this Heart of mine;
That Force nor Fate can me displease,
for Old long syne.
And then there’s these two verses from the 1788 version from Burns (these are from an English translation of the Scottish version, which you’ll hear below):
We two have run about the slopes,
and picked the daisies fine;
But we’ve wandered many a weary foot,
since auld lang syne.
We two have paddled in the stream,
from morning sun till dine;
But seas between us broad have roared
since auld lang syne.
Here is the Francis/Campbell version of Auld Lang Syne, along with one of my very favorite photos of Hudson.
Oh, my dear girl. This bright resemblance of thy face so fills this heart of mine.
Happy New Year, sweet Hudson. So many more years to turn without you, so many more weary feet to wander, so many more seas to divide us from the time we last saw you. But we will always remember with joy the days we had with you.
For Auld Lang Syne. For Hudson.