I frequently let endings dominate my life. My leaving home for graduate school ended my secure life under the care of my parents. My marriage ended my existence as a single woman who charted her own course, while my divorce ended my status as a married woman. Retiring ended my decades as a middle school teacher. The death of my parents ended my identity as a child and gave me a new persona as a sixty-seven-year-old orphan.
I have tried to teach myself, especially during these pandemic days of isolation and introspection, that with each ending comes a beginning. Life continues, even if the tomorrows take on different hues, scents and sounds than the todays and yesterdays. Just as the red light only temporarily stops my journey until the green light restarts it, so do I have the ability to create a beginning to a life that has ended.
Therein, however, lies the challenge. I have the ability to start over, to find a new way to garner meaning and purpose from my life, but do I have the mental stamina to do so? As a person with a proclivity towards depression, it is difficult for me to muster the energy that new beginnings require. How much easier it is to lie on the couch and lose myself in memories than to get up each day with a goal to make the day a special one—to begin on a more positive note.
Like life and death or love and hate, endings and beginnings are two sides of the same coin. I have a responsibility to myself—and to those who care about me—to acknowledge the darker side and to then embrace the lighter, more hopeful one. My efforts to do so have mixed results; some days are mentally better than others. Yet, even on the worst of days, I continue to get up, read my books, take my walks and watch my virtual readings of plays. I force myself to see each day as a beginning—one that might bring a breakthrough in the search for a vaccine, and one that might bring a breakthrough in the bleakness that tends to envelop me.
Endings and “the end” are not the same. A period defines the latter, while a comma accompanies the former. Endings are transitions that give me the opportunity to write new beginnings.