Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to commemorate the life and death of 2016, of birthname “New Beginning” and of deathname “Traitor,” who was known to the Romans as MMXVI and to the Mayans as “The reason we tried to shut you all down four years ago.”
2016 was a tough son of a bitch: he stole and he killed, he endorsed racism and sexism and homophobia, and sometimes when no one was looking, he even littered. Because 2016 doesn’t buy into this whole “climate change” thing. In fact, after a bitter prom night after his late father, 2015 – who was still in office then, bless his soul – had already missed the young 2016’s graduation ceremony, 2016 made the decision to do Climate Change’s job for them.
“I’ll go for their families first, and then their friends. I’ll set their homes aflame and scare them into hiding. I’ll sic my best madmen on them and they won’t even raise a brow until it’s too late. They will burn. And every few weeks, lest they should get too comfortable or feel too secure, I’ll drop a celebrity or two.”
- From 2016’s memoirs, “Volume XI: The Night Dad Called My Favorite Movie Dumb.”
We lost a lot of our heroes to 2016: David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Harper Lee, Muhammad Ali… Carrie Fisher. And the list only starts there. And because that wasn’t enough, 2016 also came down intermittently to hit closer to home and twist the knife. I myself mourned a number of family members and family friends this year, both acquaintances and loved ones. There are many I know who suffered even worse, were struck even more personally. As we move forward, theirs are the shoulders we will come to lean on, as they did ours in their time of loss, for theirs are the ones that have hardened and strengthened with time.
They are the ones who stand here today most dissatisfied, most angry, with 2016. And they are the ones to whom I extend my love and my apologies, my apologies that we couldn’t do more. That none of us could. I read once that loss of a loved one is unlike other tragedies – that it’s the one you don’t get over, but the one you integrate into your daily reality. Never before has that been so apparent – our cancers struck and our cars crashed, our cities fell and our communities were gunned down – and still we were asked to remain behind, to rebuild. And we will rebuild, in lament and in memoriam, but most of all in anger.
We are angry, 2016, and so we have a hard time finding cause to mourn you.
But, in the interest of fairness and kindness that you yourself so conveniently forgot to grant us, we will recognize your moments of vulnerability: when you showed us that even you were human, in some sense of the word. You gave us small victories and promises of hope: as always, a new generation of children to forge the future, newly broken barriers, and long-awaited revivals of beloved franchises. You gave us great movies (TWO Disney titles!) and heart-wrenching documentaries, great TV series and fantastic games. Who would have thought Final Fantasy XV would finally hit shelves this November, after that agonizing ten-year wait?
We thank you for your bounties, 2016 – from the bottom of our hearts. But you had seen to it that this year’s story was always going to be a revenge story – an ugly western where neither of us walks away truly victorious. And so we apologize, for the uprising we set up against you. We organized an armada of 1.7 billion people and had them set their timers to 12:00 AM, January 1st, 2017. We equipped them with weapons: fireworks that would rise up against you and bring your regime crumbling to the ground. So when the timers rang at last, we launched them skyward and watched our colors – red, blue, green, white and gold – set the sky aflame, reminding us that at the end of the day, our world was still ours, our legacy still unwritten. We survived you and screamed till our throats ran dry, and we danced and hugged and kissed in the rain. We will survive again.
We have no way of knowing now whether 2016’s son, the up-and-coming 2017, Bringer MMXVII of Already-Broken-New-Years’-Resolutions, will be a kinder force than his father was, and it is difficult to celebrate his inauguration when the bitter taste of yesteryear is still so fresh in our mouths. Still, we can – at least for the time being – huddle together and hope this time the words “New Beginning” mean something. And we can, when push comes to shove, know that whatever tragedy may come at us, we will always have friends, family, and loved ones at our side, that we – filthy, stubborn humans that we are – will rebel, love, and endure even when all the forces of the universe push back against us. We will survive.
Featured photo credit: dic2arol fireworks display M9 & Carl Zeiss C Sonnar T* 1,5/50 ZM via photopin (license)