We are now hurtling towards the end of the year, towards the end that exists at the midpoint of a year. I wrote about it last week. Both the calendar and the natural world speak of fullness, of the bright, raucous beginnings of the most swollen season of the year. And yet everything in me aches with endings right now. Why am I am so finely tuned to this cadence whose beat I cannot hear but nevertheless feel undeniably in my bloodstream?
The flowers of early spring – peonies, rhododendrons, countless others whose names I do not know – are all brown and faded, either drooping from trees or already fallen and ground into mush on the pavements. Every day I seem to walk through another puddle of brightness on the sidewalk, underneath another tree that has let its petals go under the weight of too much lush beauty.
The tree outside my window is now dense with leaves. They have transitioned from the first, tentative shoots of bright green to the deep, shiny green color that will fill my window until mid August. Last week people in caps and gowns swarmed around my town, and Grace and Whit and I had the same conversation we had the year before about academic regalia, about the orange hood I wore when I graduated from business school, about how isn’t it hard to keep those flat hats on your head?
School ends this week, and I know that event is the central note of the painful drumbeat of farewell to which every day is set. As I did last year, I will take my tear-stained face and camera full of photographs of my children in white and escape immediately to Storyland. We will hide out in a place that means a lot to all three of us. A place where I say yes. A place where magic blunts the loss that limns every moment. I don’t know many more years Grace and Whit will be charmed by Storyland’s small rides and fairytale attractions, but as long as they are, I will take them.
I can’t run away from the endings, but I can at least take myself – and my children – to a place where for a bit we forget about the closure of another chapter, about the turning forward of our time on earth. Of course when I’m there, I have to try not to wonder if this will be the last time. My deep and fundamental awareness of life’s transience comes with me no matter where I go. The challenge is to not let it overshadow the moments of extraordinary joy. Like when I hear Grace and Whit squeal with delight at the gate of Storyland. So I won’t.
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