Things are changing.
This is a season of closing chapters. Good ones that were well-lived and well-loved. I’m a person that holds onto books. Sometimes I read passages over and other times I just like knowing that they have a place on the shelf. The chapters that are wrapping up in this season are the sweetest. But maybe I always think it’s this way.
In my late twenties, my husband and I lived in a tiny condo in a small beach town. The galley kitchen held our washer and dryer as well as the stove and appliances. When I got pregnant with our first child, we both could not comfortably be in the kitchen at the same time. It was small and cozy and just right. I told myself I could stay there forever, because the season was so good. But we didn’t.
We’ve lived in other towns since. We’ve had jobs and left them. We’ve acquired pets, more rooms, and another child. It has been important to me to build something that is lasting and true. I’d spend hours watching my kids build lego structures that now remain intact and unplayed as they’ve aged out of that phase.
I think about my clients and the goodbyes that were said over the past two decades. In my early work as an in-home therapist for the foster care system, I can remember working with a surly red-haired teenager. It seemed like she merely tolerated my presence. Some kids embraced therapy and others observed from the sidelines until it felt safe to enter. When I was about to move away to the beach town where that tiny condo awaited us, I had to say goodbye to this fiery teen. I thought she’d shrug off my goodbye, but she sat across from me with her chin wobbling and cried hard about missing me. Even when we seem closed off to change, it happens anyway and it hurts just the same.
I think about the times my goodbyes with friends caused my throat to tighten up with words both said and unsaid. Tears welling up and an inner mix of both hurt and yearning. Relationships that were so fun and good while they were in that sparkling season. Then the new ache of driving away knowing things would never be the same again.
I never understood that to love someone fully meant to be constantly grieving. That’s why nostalgia is so appealing. It’s wanting the thing that you built in the past while simultaneously building the future. We’re always saying goodbye to something. We’re always moving towards something else.
Last month I stood in my kitchen making Valentine’s Day cookies for my daughter’s classroom. It struck me that this would be the very last time I made cookies for a school heart party. She is aging out and the chapter is closing. This is right and it’s also sad.
There are many chapters that are closing for me in this season. Some of them are closing at the same time and others will stretch themselves out. I cannot read them more slowly. This will not stop the process. I can only read the words as they come and let myself feel the weight of what they have to say.
I haven’t lived in that small beach town with the cute condo in over ten years. However, when I think of it now my heart gets all warmed up. About once a year I drive to that town, park my car, and walk to the beach. I feel my feet in the sand and I let the tears come, telling myself, “This was good. This was so good.”
These losses feel like aches because I lived those moments fully. I put my whole self into them. Letting love pour out of me and into creating a life that would shift and change. It’s always a season of grief and new beginnings - it’s both. It’s sad and exciting. Memories and hopes. Backwards and forwards. Holding and growing. Both.
They never told me that it would be this hard or that I would get choked up watching these “last” moments play out. They also never told me how rich and deep and wide my love could grow. I could only learn this by living the chapters and then letting them end.
All my love,
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Nice Girl Uprising, Jennifer Padilla-Burger