I Don’t Like Endings

With 2020 now in the rearview mirror, I am reminded that so many people were beyond ready to say goodbye to this year. Not me. I am not one of those people.

I have never liked endings. But as time goes on and I’ve experienced many different kinds of endings, I’m discovering that I have more than just a casual dislike.

I’m always a little sad when one season ends, even in the case of a harsh Winter melting into Spring. I am in love with Spring…it’s my favorite season! Yet it’s hard for me to leave the gifts of Winter behind – the crisp air, pretty snowfalls, cozy time in our warm home. I’ve welcomed in every New Year feeling not ready to let go of the old one. Even this one, the year that brought more than its share of challenges. Instead, I find myself focusing on and holding on to all the good bits – slower living, much less busy-ness, my college kids home for an extended period of time (an unexpected gift for me). Time, which always moves too quickly for me, finally seemed to move slower this year. And I wish I could just linger here longer.

Of course, I never like when a vacation ends – as much as I love my home, it’s always hard to leave whatever fun place we’ve been and accept the idea of that magical time ending. And don’t even get me started on saying goodbye to people. Many years ago, a premature ending rocked my life when my mom passed away. As a rather new mom myself, I’d never imagined this journey without her. This is an ending that we process with time, one we each experience in our own personal ways. I can share that it has left a forever empty space in my life, in spite of the powerful learning and growth it made possible. 

I recently became acquainted with a new kind of ending – taking each of my kids to college. It definitely wasn’t the ending I’d imagined (I worried about this “goodbye” for years leading up to it). It brought sadness and waves of nostalgia, for sure. Twinges of longing for so many of the precious memories of the last 18 years. But as we settled in to this new season, I found this ending to be more of a shift than an ending. We’ve found a rhythm that redefined how I’d thought this ending would look, perhaps because we talk or text daily and, even before so much shutdown in March, they came home for more than the standard school breaks.

Time can be tricky – at the start of things it always feels like it stretches out forever. It can lull us into a space of comfort, almost thinking that it’s limitless. But as we approach the end of anything, we become very aware of time’s presence, and of the waning time left in that particular space. I have to push away the countdown that often plays in my head, reminding me how many days left on this vacation or how many weeks until they go back to school.

Please let me clarify that I truly DO believe that every ending is a new beginning. Fully. I know this in my soul. And this is a phenomenon of life, a blessing, for which I am so grateful. Something I am in awe of.

But the glorious new beginnings – while exciting and heart-filling and joy-bringing – don’t replace the endings. Whatever and whomever we said goodbye to still (always) has a place in our hearts. And the memories – the gifts we never have to say goodbye to – these let us revisit and feel treasured moments and people we have let go. As beautiful as this is, memories cannot completely take the sting out of endings. I’ve come to terms with this, and even think that maybe this is how it’s supposed to be. 

Before you decide that I’m just arguing both sides, consider this. Maybe that sad feeling inside of us that accompanies endings, by design, is meant to remind us how precious the people and experiences we’ve just moved on from really are. To help us consciously feel more gratitude, and be more intentional in our lives. Maybe it helps to keep us more present as we move forward.

This reassures me, and helps me to make peace with the fact that endings are just a part of life. That doesn’t mean that I have to like them – I accepted my displeasure with them long ago. I use this awareness to more deeply experience every now. And treasure every new beginning.

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