From the Left



Why I Need 2023 to Pull Me From Last Year's Wreckage

Bonnie Jean Feldkamp on

I was hit by a hearse on my way home from a routine doctor appointment. It was a minor fender bender at a stoplight. While waiting for the light to turn green a hearse backed out of its parking space at the bakery to my right and crunched into my passenger side door.

My social media friends had a blast with it. "A hearse? Really?" They asked. Some joked about the funeral home trying to "drum up business." They also wanted to know, "Was there a casket in there?" Others wondered if the accident had made someone "late for their own funeral." I too wondered if the hearse was carrying cargo, but I didn't ask. I was too consumed by my bewilderment. It played out like the opening scene of a movie. What, pray tell, was the universe trying to tell me?

The minor accident deflated what was left of my holiday spirit. I exchanged information with the driver and drove home. A different day may have favored a more humorous attitude, but on this day, at the end of a difficult 2022, the hearse hit me harder than I had expected, at least emotionally.

I had been dinged by death one too many times in the past year. Is this what a midlife crisis feels like? Maybe. Was this yet another reminder of how little control we humans have and of how fragile it all really is? I'm reminded of Elizabeth Gilbert's Twitter post. She wrote, "You are afraid of surrender because you don't want to lose control. But you never had control; all you had was anxiety." That's an accurate description of what the past year has felt like for me: one angst-filled moment after another. Some good things happened last year, too; don't get me wrong. I gave my first TED Talk, connected with community members and even won two awards. But every time I stood up, I'd feel another little ding.

I managed to get both COVID-19 and the flu. Both illnesses terrify me as a person with autoimmune disease. I got my vaccines and took precautions but that was not enough. I sailed through COVID-19 in the spring with minor symptoms. But the flu? It took me down right before Thanksgiving and for almost a month. It really scared me.


I also watched as colleagues accepted buyouts and severances. I took my mandated one-week furlough the last week of the year. That's when the hearse hit me. It wasn't one major punch to my life. No massive tragedy. It felt like the final ding in a long line of dings. 2022 was a year that liked to poke me in the eye. Every single day.

Surrender sounds more like defeat to me. I don't surrender well. I'm more of a "dig in, learn more and figure stuff out so I can come through on the other side" kind of person. But I am ready to let go of some of this anxiety. I know it's hard for so many people right now. Maybe we can exhale together. Try to let go, start again, have some faith and maybe even a little fun. I'm ready for things to take a more upward trend and I'm hoping that 2023 can bring it.


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