“Nothing really happens during the week between Christmas and New Years,” my editor assured me before I left for California. “It’s usually pretty quiet.”
I packed my bags and looked forward to Sunday, naively sure that a new number — seven instead of six — would bring with it a new sense of order. No sudden movements and we’d get there scot-free.
We all believed it a little.
But we should have known 2016 was petty as fuck. News of George Michael’s too-early death on Christmas was the first puncture. Already our modest balloon of hope — for a reprieve from the attention-hungry joy vacuum that this cursed year has been — was slowly leaking air. The death of a beloved popstar on Christmas?! So sad and so sudden that we almost should have known. We were 359 days in, after all. Bowie. Prince. Leonard. Alan. Phife. Janet. China. The other Alan. Garry. Gwen. Sonia. Muhammad. Florence. Gene. Zsa Zsa. Alexis. Bill. The list goes on. We should be used to this.
You’d think the news of George Michael might wisen us. Snap us back to our dark reality. But no, we mourned him on Monday and then we tentatively returned to our optimism, our biological will to thrive and prosper too strong for our own stupid good. Our desire for holiday cheer too resilient. We performed our family traditions, the twinkle in our eye growing dull but still there!
Then, on Tuesday, guards down, 2016 took Carrie Fisher. The woman behind Princess Leia, sure, but feminist icon, comedian, powerful woman with a powerful voice, too. That was a lot. Too much, maybe. We cast our eyes on 2016 with disdain. FUCK THIS YEAR, we said, forgetting ourselves and our palliative cinnamon rolls.
By Wednesday we were bitter and jaded. But like an overconfident wimp in a fight with a bully, we stupidly thought we could take whatever else was coming. We were wrong. Later that day 2016 struck again. Debbie Reynolds.
“No one can know if the actress Debbie Reynolds — who died on Wednesday, a day after her daughter, Carrie Fisher — died of a broken heart,” wrote the Times.
No one can know anything. Except, maybe, that 2016 is surely damned. Logic would say it’s silly to blame bad news on a year, but I’ll trade the perception of sanity in for the momentary satisfaction of finger-pointing. Plus, at this point, it’s nearly a reasonable conclusion. I think we ought to hold on to each other. There are 37 hours left. Queen Elizabeth has been in and out the hospital. So has Rob Kardashian. Someone started a GoFundMe page for Betty White just because.
Stick close everyone. Look twice. Don’t count your chickens. 2016 could do a lot with a day and a half, that little fucker. Stay safe.