This is a week of lasts. Well, maybe it’s just one last. It will be the last week for my younger son being in junior kindergarten. In the Fall, it’s on to elementary school where he will join his brother, further complicating our life’s schedule and effectively helping me realize that I am getting old.
Amidst the week of lasts (well, one last), this whole season of life has been kind of a season of lasts for me. Pretty soon it will be the last time that I go to the house that was owned by my parents. Pretty soon I will get rid of some of the extraneous stuff that belonged to my parents. Pretty soon I will be closing a chapter of life as I try to move on and understand a little better what it means to adjust to the new normal.
Last week, I took some of the last remaining stuff that belonged to my parents from the townhouse. I don’t like to throw things away, especially when it’s something that’s perfectly good, but I knew that I had to do some of that. I brought some of my dad’s counseling books to a counseling center in Williamsburg that he was supposed to have worked for when he moved down. They were grateful for the donation and as I stood there talking to the receptionist, I wanted the words to keep coming because I felt like, in a way, the moment I left that office, I would be saying good-bye to yet another part of my father. I awkwardly lingered there at the desk in silence for a moment and I could tell that there was discomfort in the receptionist by the look in her eyes.
As I walked to my car, my heart sank a little bit. My dad’s heart was in counseling, he loved to help people. He loved to help people in ways that he had never been helped before. Those books were a part of him, and although I knew that I wouldn’t and couldn’t use them, it still pained me to get rid of them. At least they were going to a good place, unlike some of his awards and certifications that I threw in a dumpster later on.
My uncle and I drove to the transfer station and I watched as a few of the counseling certifications that my dad had earned were thrown into the dumpster. My heart sank a little bit more. I had kept the ones that I thought I might like to have, but these just didn’t seem as important to me. But still, I hate to throw things away and as I watched those plaques slide across the piles of garbage in that dumpster, I felt like another piece of my dad was being thrown from my life.
As my uncle and I were driving from place to place last week, he told me that every time he drove these roads that we were on, he thought of my dad. I echoed his sentiments as I had done my fair share of driving on these roads myself. He was verbally working out my parents’ timeline in Williamsburg as we drove. Was your mom really just in the house for 2 months before she was diagnosed with cancer? Yes. She only lasted another 6 months after that. And after that, Dad only lasted another 6 months before he was unable to care for himself. He barely celebrated a year of living in a house that was his own.
Sometime in the not too distant future (I hope), I will sell my parents’ townhouse and there will be very little reason to drive down those roads anymore. I can still visit my relatives in Williamsburg, but it might get harder before it gets easier. Unfortunately, as I’ve mentioned in other posts, place is important and we can associate an awful lot with a place. Williamsburg, for all of its advantages and wonderments, reminds me of death. The death of my parents. The death of their dreams. The death of my dreams for them. As hard as I try to find new meaning for that place, there’s a lot working against it.
The one advantage of endings is that they can lead to new beginnings. That’s what I’m hoping for. I don’t know what’s around the bend, but I hope that it’s better than what the last few years have held. I don’t want to wish life away or hastily move through moments of growth and learning, but I am longing for peace and I’m hoping that it’s not as elusive and far off as it’s seemed to have been. Here’s hoping that these weeks of last things might lead to weeks of new things as well.