It is a truth universally acknowledged that I am terrible with endings. Equally terrible with change. The school year draws to a close, the air fills with humidity and the thick, sweet smells of spring moving into summer, and I start to cry. This isn’t even the “end of the beginning” anymore – we are well past that now. My baby is graduating from Beginners. My older child is moving out of the very youngest building at school. Sob. I am already aware of how few days are left in this school year, and I wake each morning with a tangible sense of loss hanging on the horizon of my awareness.
But this year, along with the traditional end-of-school year melancholy, there are other things ending. Our beloved nanny of 5 1/2 years, who joined us right when Whit was born, is leaving. This is her last week. I am leaving the job I’ve been at for 3 1/2 years. I will have the summer without work for the first time in 10 years. There are numerous tiny ways in which I feel like the life I know is about to shift irrevocably, and I do not have steady footing for this ride. The terrain of my life is beginning to move around, I suspect there is an earthquake coming, and I don’t know what to do to keep myself safe. Where is the doorframe, in which you are supposed to seek stability, in an earthquake of the soul?
My parents are sailors. Growing up on boats I encountered my share of those frayed, brittle lines whose protruding roughness can cut your hands. You grab them wrong and you can wind up with a sliver of fiberglass embedded in your palm. That’s how this feels right now: all of these losses, all of these endings, are wound together in a knotty rope whose power is undeniable but whose touch on my hand stings badly. I don’t even want that rope near me, but I can’t get away from it.
These changes flicker at the edges of all of my hours now, and like flames eating a piece of paper they consume them from the outside in. I don’t know how much is left in the middle, so voraciously do these endings seem to take over my thoughts, my feelings, my very life. I know intellectually that the anticipation of a change has often been worse than the reality for me, but this knowledge cannot possible compete with the roaring fear in my spirit. And so I go out into the glorious spring day, trying to keep my hands from being cut by the rope I cannot avoid, trying to keep my eyes on what is in front of me, trying to keep my heart from leaping out of my chest. It’s not simple, this part, for me.