SEPTEMBER SURRENDER: DAY SEVENTEEN
What I’m Letting Go
I’ve been thinking a lot about NaNoWriMo lately. I feel more ready to write a story than ever. Getting to 1,700 words a day isn’t going to be easy, but I’m going to do it. The thing I worry about is finishing it. I’ve never been good at endings. I’ve always seemed to fall short, or been entirely unsatisfied with what I write. Authors like Stephen King are famously terrible at endings, and I wonder how many others are too. It’s not always easy to come to a satisfactory ending, but I suppose I’ll find it along the way.
When we write, we tell tales from our own lives. But if we’re still living, can we in all fairness tell a good ending? We haven’t seen the ultimate one yet, so how can I think I’ll be able to pull out a decent one when it’s time?
I’ve never been good at endings. Even the entries here I sometimes feel like are lame. I try so hard to tie everything up in a neat little bow, but I’m always so dissatisfied with what’s awaiting me at the finish line. I need to stop searching for the ‘perfect’ ending to things. Sometimes things just end. Sometimes they do so in a most poetic fashion. Maybe that’s good enough and there needs to be no further meaning behind it.
When I was twenty, I broke up with my boyfriend after we parted ways for our junior year of college. He wasn’t messaging me back, was ignoring me, and the one weekend I chose to come home to see him, he said he was busy. But I still had feelings for him. He still wanted in my life, even as I saw him go through three different girlfriends. We kept seeing each other as friends, and I’d be there as his emotional backboard during each break up. He kept up the physical in that time too, further confusing me as to what we actually were, or could be. I didn’t always play my cards right, as I was an emotional wreck over not being with him and not understanding why. I can’t put the blame on one party here. But I knew it was over long before the official end came.
Maybe one day I’ll write more about what went wrong there, but I remember the last time I reached out to him. It was just a simple text hoping everything was fine with him. And that was the last time there was contact. I knew the moment I sent that text that it was over. Nothing more needed to be said. It had no right going on for as long as it did, which was largely my fault. I was hoping for something to happen that never was, and would never be. And shame on me for doing that. But it was the ‘perfect’ sort of ending to it all. It suddenly didn’t matter what I felt for him in the past, because that’s where it lived now. And if it had to stop, at least it was on terms that were as nice as possible.
Sometimes you just know when something is over. The perfect ending need not be searched for. Sometimes it just comes to you, whether you’re ready for it or not.
What I’ve Discovered
About two weeks before I graduated college, they herded all the student athletes into a room so we could all talk about the end of our senior year. It felt like they were hustling us out the door in a very informal way. I remember watching some kind of Power Point presentation about “the real world,” and what we must do now that we were graduating. “You’re adults now,” they told us, “You’re going to get real-world jobs and make real-world money,” they said. It was a cold, bare-bones operation. Like they all realized at the last moment that we’d have to keep living after dedicating four years worth of our time and energy to the school. I remember walking out of that meeting feeling like my entire collegiate career had been a joke, something that wasn’t worth all the money and knee surgeries that came with being a student athlete.
At that point I knew my cushy lifestyle of going to class, hanging out with friends, and generally loafing about was coming to an end. But there was something more for me on the horizon, and I didn’t need a college course to get me through it. I realized that ‘the end’ is never really the end, if I can take a little page from one of my favorite video games The Stanley Parable. Because even though one aspect of my life was over, another one was coming up right behind it. I barely had a chance to ‘mourn’ the end, because it wasn’t really one anyway. My life, and all of our lives, are on a forward path. Time keeps us living, and moment after moment hits us, one right after the other. Certain things can be ‘over,’ but you remember the lessons you learned while they were present. The ‘end’ of a relationship or a period in time doesn’t mean your life has to stop. We all keep going until the ultimate ending which comes for all of us. And even then I don’t think it’s the “end,” per se, as we’ll meet with any and all those we’ve lost along the way in the next plane of existence.
What I Hope to FInd
I used to have a recurring dream as a kid where my mom would inform me about her upcoming death. “I’m gonna die,” she said, looking at me dead in the face. I remember crying in my dream, begging her not to go, but she kept insisting she had to. She was buried in a back field in the housing complex they still live in, and I was able to keep her essence as a little shrine that was given to me. It was a dream that always disturbed me, and always left me frightened after I woke up.
Earlier this year, my mom said the exact same thing to me while we were on the phone. “I’m gonna die,” she said, my childhood dream rushing back to me. I didn’t know what to tell her, because I cannot say something like, “No you’re not.” We all will one day. I only told her that her time wasn’t up yet, and asked her to stay with me a little longer because I need her here. But I know it’s becoming harder and harder for her to be living in the mind she has now. She’s okay during the day, but when the night hits, there’s less and less coherence in her thoughts. She can’t tell me or my father what’s going on inside her mind, leaving all three of us frustrated and confused. It’s possible the end is coming soon, though I hope she’s here long enough to at least see her first grandchild, whenever that may be.
I don’t like thinking about death, but it’s less of a scary thing for me these days. It’s the ‘end’ of life on this earth, but the beginning of a new life in the great beyond. On one particularly emotional night, I felt that God revealed to me what Heaven will be like. I saw my grandparents’ home clear as day, where my entire family would be, forever greeting and being with one another until the end of time. It brought me to my knees in awe of what He showed me, knowing something great was waiting for me when the time comes. I’m not saying I’m hustling my mother there, but I’m wondering if she’s hearing the call to come home these days. She keeps mentioning all these people she needs to go outside to see, after all.
These are hard truths to see, but they are my family’s reality. I hope to one day have the ultimate peace with all of it, either here on His earth or in His heaven. We can’t ever know when it’s our time to go. I just hope we all have the most satisfying ending possible, for our sake and for the sake of those we’ve loved along the way.