There are some calendar years that seemingly come and go with a whimper.
They are essentially 365 days worth of placeholders that hold little significance in our lives — purgatory years, really, in which nothing particularly good happens, but no significant amount of tragedy seems to befall you, either.
Some years, meanwhile, are forever earmarked based on certain personal historical events. The year you were born. The year your graduated from high school. The you were married. The years your children were born. The year you lost a loved one. For example, I will forever remember 1998 as the year Ryan Brewer rushed for 2,856 yards, setting a state record for the Troy High School football team.
Those years will never be forgotten because a singular event helped define them.
And then there are years so full of milestones — both good and bad — activities and memories that you know will will forever look back upon them with a mixture of celebration and tears.
These are the years in which seemingly every day features some sort of twist or turn — 52 weeks chock full of dizzying highs and frightening lows. These are transformative years in which, by the time you reach Dec. 31, you know you’ve experienced a little bit of everything — and moving forward into the new year, you’ll never be the same again.
Welcome to my 2015.
The first two weeks of 2015 were two of the greatest of my entire life. On Jan. 9, I finished writing my first book, “Ohio’s Troy vs. Piqua Football Rivalry: The Battle on the Miami,” which remains available at local bookstores and online. Two days later, my best friend Hughes and I were flying out of Kalamazoo, Mich., on our way to watch my nephew, a walk-on defensive lineman for the Ohio State football team, and the Buckeyes win a national title.
It was a whirlwind 72 hours that saw us sleep very little, eat very much, attend a tailgate with personal friend and three-time Super Bowl champion Mike Vrabel (how’s that for name dropping?) and watch tears fall down my face and confetti fall to the floor as Ohio State won it all.
Kicking off the new year with those two monumental events — two of the top five items left on my personal “bucket list” — led me to believe 2015 would be a series of triumphs and an endless celebration of milestone victories.
A funny thing happened on the way to the best year of my life, however.
While I was in Texas watching the national championship game, I couldn’t help but notice I was thirsty all the time no matter how my I hydrated and I couldn’t stop going to the restroom. A few weeks after I returned from Texas, I made an appointment with my family doctor and was diagnosed with Type-2 diabetes.
As someone who has never had a major health problem before in my life, I felt as though the rocket ship I had been riding into the stratosphere had just run out of fuel. Being a natural hypochondriac, I expected to go blind and start losing limbs within weeks.
That was the bad news. The good news was my fear of leaving behind a widow and two orphans was enough to push my to change everything about my health. I got serious about eating right and exercising. The diabetes turned out to be a warning — for I was headed down a path of self-destruction that would have ended with life-threatening health issues.
As my blood sugar was dropping, my spirits were once again soaring as my book was released in September. After that slight blip on the screen, I thought for sure all would be well again as I closed out the year on a hot streak. There were book signings and meet the author nights and a launch party and the opportunity to meet and thank so many generous people who had purchased copies of my book.
All was not well, however. I had to take my father his copy of my book at the hospital. When I handed it to him, I figured he could pass some time reading it in the hospital before they released him to come home.
Dad never came home again, however. Just a few days before Thanksgiving, he passed away.
Today is the final day of 2015, a year I’ll certainly never forget for all its highs and lows. Many years from now (hopefully), I’ll look back at it as one of the best and worst years of my life.
But I’ll also look back on it for what it taught me. All too often we experience those “placeholder” years, in which we forget to truly savor all that is good before it is gone. I hope I never make that mistake again. I want to enjoy the highs — no matter how big or small — before they are gone. And I want to let everyone who means something to me know how much I care about them before they are gone.
That includes you, dear reader. Thanks for being a part of such an incredible ride. I hope your 2015 was one you’ll never forget … for whatever reasons may be.
Troy’s very own David Fong appears on Thursdays in the Troy Daily News. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @thefong