Trixie and I sat in her living room on New Year’s Day, scrolling through our phones, each of us searching for just the right word.

“How about ‘manumission’?” she said after trying on a handful of others.

“I don’t know that one,” I said.

She read me the definition. But the word wasn’t mine this time—or hers.

Our New Year’s celebrations together at her home had hit the seventeen-year mark. Her family and ours had been friends for so long our blood ran together, mingling our holidays along with it. And these two-day gatherings at the end of the year birthed new ideas for Trixie and me.

In the past, while we lazed around in pajamas, she and I talked about exercise and fitness. While we munched on cheesy bacony things, we discussed tips for healthy eating. But in recent years, while waiting with our families around the TV for the ball to drop in Times Square, my friend and I enjoyed a new pursuit: words.

The words we selected for ourselves at December’s end would set our vision for the new year. Sometimes they stuck; sometimes they didn't. One time, Trixie chose ‘release’ and liked it so well she held onto it for a couple of years; I toyed with ‘surrender,’ but gave it up right away.

This year as usual, our families lounged around while Trixie and I hunted for words. But life at her house had changed.

“Mom, would you like a cup of tea?” my friend said, rising from her chair. “I have mint.”

Her mother lived with them now, and the older woman’s growing needs altered the family’s home life, blurring their future. Challenges had crept onto their calendars and confusion into their days.

Trixie delivered tea and patience anyway.

What word for 2018 would fit my friend’s life? And which one would fit mine?

The memory of a yellow glass candle holder—a gift from an aunt and uncle for my last birthday—flicked into my thoughts. The company that crafted the piece had assigned it a word: FEARLESS.

The idea of fear—or not fearing—flowed through me like my ethnicity. I would speak at a women’s conference in March. The theme? “Fear Not, He is With You.” The verses I stumbled on almost daily? “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid…”, “For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, love, and self-discipline…”, “Do not fear for I am with you…” I didn’t need to strain to hear my word for the year.

On the evening of January 1, we packed up our things and said goodbye to Trixie and her family.

“I have my word,” she said, pulling me into a hug. “It’s ‘grace.’”

“And ‘fearless’ is mine,” I said.

Goosebumps speckled my arms. I blinked hard to clear my vision.

This year, our words had chosen us.


*Miss an installment of the blog? Or want to catch the story from the beginning? Visit http://www.tamarajorell.com/blog-entries-by-date

*Names in this blog have been changed to protect my family, neighbors, and friends in the neighborhood, and in a nod of appreciation to the beloved Swedish author Maj Lindman, I’ve renamed my three blondies Flicka, Ricka, and Dicka.