Carved on American poet and writer T. S. Eliot’s tombstone is: “In my beginning an end. In my end a beginning.” It’s an interesting riddle in life to ponder. On Wednesday September 11, many of us reflected upon what happened 12 years ago and what we were doing when the World Trade Center in New York City was bombed. Perhaps you knew someone who died in one of the towers, or at the Pentagon, or on one of the three planes hijacked for an assault. Perhaps you continue to ask why this happened, or how we can ensure it never happens again. Perhaps you still worry for your children. Perhaps you mourn for the faith you lost in the wake of terror. Perhaps you’re still in search of answers to these and more questions. And today, life continues as usual; the past is history and we move forward with our plans and dreams.
We begin at the end of life, retirement, or school. A baby is born; pregnancy ends. The day dawns when night fades. A new chapter begins when the last ends. We awake from sleep. We embark upon a new career when we quit the old job (or asked to leave when the company is bought by another). We start and stop. We live and die. We begin when we end.
Last week my son started middle school. Middle school is a beginning and another step towards independence. Another apron string is cut and I mourn the loss of another temporary stage in childhood. The reality in life is that my son James is getting older and doesn’t need me as much anymore. It’s bitter and sweet. In the days leading up to the start of school, I was worried. I spent hours going over supply lists, school letters, and assorted emails directing me to links and portals on the web, some requiring passwords and IDs that I had misplaced. Savvy moms advised me to check Infinite Campus (there’s an app for that) frequently because the endless stream of paper reminders I was used to receiving in elementary school would cease. Parents need to grow up, too.
During the last days of August, two children rang my doorbell. They had baked cupcakes and cookies, and decided to sell their goodies to the neighbors. I cleaned them out of their last frosted cupcakes. Their door-to-door sweet sales should have ended, but instead they said they would just bake more. To them a fresh batch is a new beginning.
“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. Eliott
“I’ll be okay, Mom,” said James. “Don’t worry so much.” I don’t need to walk James to the bus stop anymore. He can do it alone. I miss those moments, but he gives me a willing hug and kiss before he heads out the door. One by one, the strings in my life are cut.
Like my little neighbors who don’t worry about selling their last cupcake because there would always be more to bake, I don’t need to worry about letting James go; there will always be more moments to make. There is always a beginning to an end.
What are some of your beginnings?
P.S. Don’t forget to check out my recent blog post over at the moms blog at thedemocratandchronicle.com.