I’ve had the expression “annus mirabilis” running through my head lately and finally I turned to Google to discover its actual full meaning. Many people have called 2017 an “annus horribilis” for our family and in some ways it definitely was. But in fact “annus mirabilis” feels more accurate to me.
An annus mirabilis is “a Latin phrase that means “wonderful year”, “miraculous year” or “amazing year”. This term was originally used to refer to the year 1666, and today is used to refer to several years during which events of major importance are remembered.”
And you know what? 2017 definitely wasn’t wonderful, but it was amazing, in the I-was-amazed meaning of the word. In the meaning that I read in Jeanne McCulloch’s All Happy Families: “Amazed: to fill with wonder. Also: to bewilder.” Our entire lives changed in 2017. The year was full of wonder and bewilderment, in equal measure, I think. The changes can be captured in twos:
Two new schools
Two new jobs
Two fathers (and grandfathers) gone
One of those new schools was a boarding school, so our family life took on a new shape. One of those new jobs was a company that I helped to found, which has been an incredibly marvelous experience (and I’m so grateful that both Dad and John knew of that founding before they died).
Events of major importance? No question. 2018 has been a year of fewer changes but no less emotion, which surprised me, truthfully. But when I step back and think about it, I guess it makes sense that there would be some settling in, some aftershocks, and so I think that’s what has been going on. The degree of both wonder and bewilderment that 2017 held were never going to resolve themselves neatly overnight when we stepped into 2018, a transition I recall as being fraught with emotion, even as it feels like a decade ago.
I am trying to give myself space and gentleness as I acknowledge that our annus mirabilis is taking longer to process than I anticipated. Intellectually that makes sense. Emotionally I want to be “me” again. But even as I write that, I realize the futility of that wish: the me that began 2017 is gone, and I’m forever changed by the events of that year. Wonder and bewilderment. Annus mirabilis. All these words resonate somewhere deep inside me, and I grab onto each. But on some level I still feel lost in an inchoate place.
But I can’t stop thinking of annus mirabilis. Maybe that’s my book. It’s certainly where I am right now, and at least for a while still to come, I imagine.