Lately I’ve been thinking about endings. Maybe it’s the end of school year, the graduations, or the irrational reactions to Game of Thrones in my Twitter feed, but I feel surrounded by endings. It’s the time of year, and we are captivated by the Grande Finale.
I am here for a good ending. I love a mike drop. A one line zinger that encapsulates everything. The farewell party. The long hug and squeeze. The rapid burst of fireworks at the end of the Fourth of July. I want it grand and I want it to signal to all those involved, This Is The Final Act. The end has come- you have not misconstrued anything. There will be no curtain call. You may go home and rest in the security that you experienced it all.
But what I’m learning is that not all things end with the Grand Finale. Sometimes, a thing, relationship, commitment, a phase or season of life just stops and that’s all there is. It’s like that meme that circulates on Facebook parenting pages that’s says, “One day you will set your child down and never pick them up again.” I have always had a visceral reaction to that and my flippant response is typically, “One day I will change a nasty diaper for the last time too, but nobody’s holding space for that milestone.” All snarkiness aside, I think my problem with the meme is that I hate that there is no ending to the phases of childhood. They all meld together forming this cohesion we call life. I may want confetti and balloons when I set that child down for the last time but that’s just not how this works.
Lindsey’s volleyball season ended about a month ago. I won’t bore you with the details (other people’s kids’ sport stories are never interesting), but it was so weird. Club volleyball lasts forever and it seemed we were building for a ending- a bid for Nationals. We just missed, but we left our last tournament with the hope that there would be a trickle down bid and the girls would be back in the gym in a week. That didn’t materialize and just like that, we were dismissed. I told Lindsey, “The Summer is now open. Volleyball is over.” She didn’t say much, but a few weeks later we were driving to school and out of nowhere she said, “That was so weird how volleyball ended. No goodbye. Nothing. It was just over.” I agreed with her but I didn’t have any real counsel to give.
This morning, Paul and I were taking a walk and I was telling him about the conversation I had with Lindsey. “She was right. It did seem weird without an ending.” He said, “But that’s life. There isn’t always a neat bow on things. I have had mentors and professional relationships and they just end. There’s no farewell party. No angry fight. The purpose ends and you move on. There’s not always moral value to an ending.”
I found resonance in that.
It doesn’t mean we don’t try to end well. I tell my kids to finish strong in everything and I do the same myself. I think celebrations and putting a period at the end of a season has value. But I’m learning that we don’t have to hunt down a fancy finish where there may not be one. Sometimes we live in the tension of “I guess that was all.”
And that’s ok. That’s life.