I think it started happening at 9 years old. My third grade year was coming to an end and I felt it.
A sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. An unease.
We had stacked out textbooks back on the shelves, neatly numbered for next year’s class to claim as theirs. Our desks were cleaned out, the pencil marks scrubbed off their tops. Bulletin boards stripped naked. Classroom stark and bare.
The exterior emptiness made an impact. Inside I felt it rumble as well.
Our year was over. And, instead of buzzing with thrill of summer days ahead, I hid a sadness that embraced me like a heavy blanket. I didn’t want to move up into 4th grade. I didn’t want to switch teachers and schedules and my view of the trees outside from my desk. I didn’t want the change.
This kind of thing went on for years…decades even.
Turning 10 bummed me out. I was into my double digits now. In fact, every ten based birthday was hard. 40? While rung in with grandeur of a weekend party, it left me slumped over on a car ride home, tearful and numb.
And, graduations: from middle to high, high to college, college to life…those hit me the hardest. Those kind of milestones marked big changes ahead. Though I was prepared with good transcripts in hand, with a job to welcome me, with a paycheck to support my life, the transitions felt like an emotional upheaval.
These little endings…they sting, they throb…until they become a dull ache.
I guess I’m sensitive to the passage of life. It’s like I learned to grieve the finality of moments before I knew I was doing that. Looking forward or ahead hasn’t been a natural inclination. I’ve always clung on…like nursing the words to chapters of a book as it was ending.
Maybe I knew life whizzed by all along. Maybe the times I heard adults say, “life is short”, I internalized…tucked that truth under my bones.
And, then you get into big adult stuff. That shattering heart-break. The end of a marriage. The path of infertility. The closing of doors to homes. The death of loved ones.
These endings…every single one of them, rattles the foundation life sits on. Sometimes it’s a rolling rumble. Sometimes it’s a jarring jolt. Pieces shift. Or fall. Or break. And, what’s often left is a new space or a new way of placing things.
The effect of this virus has a magnitude of no other change I’ve experienced before. As a collective, the changes ripple across the globe sending an energetic force that can’t be ignored.
This may be the biggest ending ever.
And, I feel it…sometimes so powerfully, it’s leaves me breathless. That kind of sadness that rocks you back and forth and leaves you exhausted on the couch.
It’s addressing the loss, really. Life as we’ve experienced, as we’ve planned will not return. It’s gone. And while I can sit with the beautiful dawning of a new to come, I also feel the loss.
Because in this death of the way things were, there are endings of dreams, of livelihoods, of plans, of lives…and this can be hard to process.
The only comfort I take is that as this reality shifts or falls or breaks, something else will exist. And, what is left is a new space or a new way of placing things.