Good riddance, 2016.
Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.
I think most of us can agree, 2016 will go down in history as one of the worst ever. From a seemingly unprecedented number of A-list celebrity deaths to an acrimonious presidential election that seemingly left us all worse for wear by sheer virtue of the process we had to go through to get from beginning to end, it wasn’t exactly one most of us will look back fondly upon.
For me personally, tragedy struck close to home when my best friend’s daughter died tragically several weeks ago in an automobile accident. I’m not sure the memory of seeing two of my friends suffer the worst kind of pain imaginable is something I’ll ever fully be able to shake from my soul.
And as hard as that is going to be for me, it’s only a fraction of what her parents will have to suffer all the days of their lives.
There were, however, some bright moments in 2016. And while we mourn the ones we lost, we also must keep on living our lives, if for no other reason than remembering the good times is what helps keep the memories of loved ones blooming.
In times of sadness and grief, we must also remember the joyful milestones in our lives. In my life, I was able to watch a pair of my nephews graduate from college and high school, respectively, a niece graduate from junior high school and my daughter graduate from the sixth grade. I’ll never forget the feelings of pride I have in watching them continue their own journeys toward adulthood.
I also had the chance to take my family on a real vacation for the first time in …. well, ever. Never before since my son Max was born in 2007 had the four of us had the chance to go away on vacation. Sure, it was just a three-day-jaunt up to Sandusky and Put-In-Bay, but it gave myself, my wife and my kids memories that will last a lifetime.
From riding the rollercoasters at Cedar Point for 15 hours one day to burying Daddy under the beach sand from neck to ankle (the result of a lost bet to my wife; seeing me buried and helpless may be her favorite overall memory of 2016) on Kelley’s Island the next, it was three days of fun and sun we’ll always cherish.
In the fall, I was able to reconnect with some people I hadn’t seen or heard from in three decades as my sixth grade class from St. Patrick Elementary School hosted a 30th reunion weekend. Losing friends is horrible, finding ones you thought you had lost forever is an immeasurable joy.
Of course, the world of sports provided me with no shortage of happy memories, as well. The Troy football team returned to its previous glory with a 10-2 season, a league title and a trip to the playoffs. I was fortunate enough to be there every step of the way and meet a group of young men who I’ll remember as great football players, but even better people.
I also had the chance to be in the stands at Ohio Stadium — alongside my best friend Hughes — as Ohio State defeated Michigan in double overtime. Even though the Buckeyes have pretty much owned the Wolverines the past 15 years, watching them win in person never gets old.
We also had some fine sports moments within the Fong household as my daughter competed in her first two official pole vault competition and our son Max competed in his first triathlon. Watching Max swim, bike and run alongside other young people with special needs brought a different kind of tears — ones of joy — to my eyes.
I suppose, if anything, 2016 taught me a valuable lesson — namely, life is hard, but we must continue to press on and find the positives that surround us, regardless of how simple or mundane they may seem at the time. It was certainly a hard lesson to learn.
All that being said, however, I’ll be glad when 2016 is gone — and anxiously await whatever it is 2017 has to offer. I can only hope the best for all of us.
Reach David Fong at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @thefong