I sit by a roaring fire, the old year passing in a blaze. Blizzard predicted. We will see. The future is never quite as predicted. Sun tips to the West, as on a Silver Eagle coin. Only in this season, it seems more tipping toward the South. To no one in particular, I make the point: The sun is setting in a different place this time of year. School’s around the corner, my daughter is hard at French, son at physics. Good things, to be sure. My son suddenly looks up. “Actually, Dad …”

But my head is elsewhere. This has been a tough year. Lots of international surprises. Britain exits from the European Union. North Korean missile tests, Chinese islands, Russian hacking and belligerence. Peace accords that went nowhere, as Aleppo fell. A coup attempt in NATO-ally Turkey. Terrorist events, and of course our rough-and-tumble presidential election.

But more, too.

America lost John Glenn, the everyman’s hero — in an age when being a “hero” was hard. The self-effacing Marine sat on a rocket that had blown up 1 in 3 times to assure America would lead in space, and could assure a worried world.

We lost Apollo 14 astronaut and moonwalker Ed Mitchell. His final salute was on the eve of his mission’s 45th anniversary. Coincidence or confluence, he bid us “fair winds and following seas,” then took leave.

In music, other losses. Glenn Frey from the Eagles took wing, circled and was gone, “already gone.” His advice echoes on — “Don’t let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy….Take it easy, take it easy … lighten up while you still can.”

Gone too, as vanished into Purple Rain, Prince Rogers Nelson, or simply Prince. “Compassion is an action word with no boundaries,” he offered. “Act your age and not your shoe size,” and, “Whenever my sunshine turns to rain … she’s always there.” Yes, being there.

Gone, David Bowie. Among his brilliant distillations, “Aging is an extraordinary process, where you become the person you always should have been.” And, “If you feel safe in the area you are working in, you are not working in the right area.”

Funny how people touch each other. Bowie’s first big single was “Space Oddity,” released as the first Apollo astronauts left their prints on the moon, July 1969.

Goodbyes to Merle Haggard, George Michael, and Alan Thicke, “America’s Dad” on “Growing Pains,” also a songwriter. Makes you glance out the nearest window.

From space to space, we just lost Princess Leia of Star Wars, Carrie Fisher. Before we could catch our breath, her mother, one-of-a-kind singer-actress Debbie Reynolds — for me forever Kathy Selden, dancing with Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor in “Singin’ in the Rain.”

Long list. Another glance out the window.

Closer to home, dear friends sustained unprecedented losses, unexpected, untimely and deep. Is it always this way? Losses out of cycle and unfair? Finding consolation is like picking constellations from a night sky littered with light noise, or waiting for shooting stars, just hard. The celestial clockwork ticks on, inscrutable, unforgiving and unstoppable.

These events trigger thinking, a need to be closer, memories of resonant and lilting voices, not soon to be heard again. We close our eyes and reach for silent guides, stronger faith and greater attention on one another.

There is a certain restoration that comes of looking backward, even on a hard year. Looking back presses us forward, as if throwing something into the past to propel us into the future. The solemn look gives grounding and perspective, reorients us on the far horizon, especially those of us out to sea, forcing recall of what matters. People matter, not wins and losses. Eyes go back to the window.

So 2016 packed a punch. More could be said, but better not. The year is closing. For some, not soon enough, healing and closure still much needed. For others, it was a banner. We need their enthusiasm, too. We heal from within and without. We need each other, we Americans.

That is another thing, we are duty-bound to take a deep breath, work harder toward “One Nation under God, Indivisible.” Some feel wire brushed, others windblown. It was that kind of year, but now time to remember E Pluribus Unum, “Out of Many, One.”

My mind wanders. The sun is getting low now, drifting from west to south. Even the sun has moved. That is when I hear my son’s voice.

“Actually Dad … the sun is setting where it always has. It is we who have moved.”

And of course, he is right. My perspective is off. Time to look forward.

Happy New Year!

Robert Charles is a former assistant secretary of state under Colin Powell, former White House staffer for Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, lawyer and writer, who grew up in Wayne — and often returns.