I'm a big fan of new beginnings because I like to move forward, start fresh.
2015 was a year I would like to move forward from: my freshman year of college, with its small dorm room and overcommitments and boring classes, or my first winter, marked by freezing rain, biting temperatures, and dirty snow. 2015 was also a year of great sorrow and heartache.
On Memorial Day, my father went out for a bike ride and did not return. He had a heart attack, suffering a severe anoxic brain injury while his heart stopped pumping oxygen to his head. Five days later, the neurologist told us that he would not bounce back; the Mike we knew and loved was gone. The next several months were spent in the hospital, as our family, church, and friends witnessed a miracle occur in my father as his mind and body defied diagnoses.
My father still doesn’t remember almost anything from before the accident. He struggles with short-term memory and naming objects. Seven months later, I’m proud to say that my father is still with us, breathing and talking and laughing and walking. The Mike we knew and loved is still with us, but life in 2015 ended very differently than it began.
So while I’d like to put 2015 in a box and shove it under my bed and never look at it again, it just does not work that way. 2015 happened, containing the highest highs and the lowest lows. You can’t separate the two; they happen right alongside each other.
The following is my collection of best photos from the year. They document changing seasons and places I love. There are happy memories with friends and moments of recovery with my family. But most importantly, they show love: the love of engaged couples, of newlyweds, of families, of my dear friends, and of my parents. These are the moments of tremendous sorrow and tremendous joy that, all mushed together, somehow made up the past 365 days of my life.
As I looked through all the photos I took in 2015 (somewhere between 20,000-30,000), there was so much I had forgotten. My first snow day, TEDxFoggyBottom, New York City, an internship I loved, or weekends in DC -- all of this happened in the same year? Memory is fickle thing. We forget far too easily, both moments of joy and sorrow. My dad would so love the ability to look back on a set of photos from the year and feel all that those moments hold, but for now he cannot. They would be sterile images for him. And so I've also come to know that remembering is an invaluable action, something we should treasure and practice.
The following photographs are my effort at remembering, before I rush ahead to any new beginnings.
To those who have trusted me with their memories, thank you.
To those who have walked alongside me as the year came and went, thank you. I could not do this without you.
I'll end with Wendell Berry, someone who understands human life much better than I do:
"The World as it is would always be a reminder of the world that was, and of the world that is to come."