What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from. ~ T.S. Eliot
|The Thanksgiving selfie.|
The necklace is a gift from Sheila.
There are crushing periods in many of our lives that I think of as The End of the World As We Know It, when we experience catastrophic change that evaporates our comfort zones, rips away what we believe we hold most dear, and leaves us feeling sucker-punched to the point we can't breathe, much less cry. Sometimes The End comes without warning, and sometimes it arrives in a slow motion, inevitable slide downwards, one that we can see coming - but wish oh so hard never will.
We know that Very Bad Things happen every day. Most of us have seen The End of the World as We Know It within our own families, among our friends, and on the news. We cry then, and we try to help as much as we can - but it doesn't change the fact that someone's world as they know it is ending. And maybe we even imagine The End happening to us, but it seems like a remote impenetrable theory rather than anything real that we can apply to our own beloved comfort zones, our own experiences of holding people, habits, and what we think we know dear.
When The End of My World as I Knew It happened this year, it arrived with no warning, but also with plenty of warning. It came as complete surprise when a life-saving chemotherapy medication that had worked for eight years stopped relieving the symptoms of my youngest daughter's painful and incurable disease. Yet I saw the handwriting on the wall for at least a year, probably longer, before a career that defined me professionally, and perhaps too much personally, for most of my adult life ended. I'm not much of a crier in my middle age, but twice, I fell to the floor and cried great gulping tears – oddly months after I was sucker-punched with devastating medical and job losses. The rest of the time I sleep-walked through each day, and clumsily grieved for the end of what I believed I knew about myself and my future, and for the failure of the medical science that had held my fears of losing my daughter at bay.