For every new beginning, there must be an end; for each gain, a loss. But what happens in between? Transition.
In writing, a good transition is important to connect and unify prose. Transition words help cue the reader to interpret and understand how ideas work together in a paragraph from beginning to end. In music, a transition is a passing from one key to another. When a transition is executed expertly in music, writing, or life there is flow. But it takes practice to execute flawlessly, and life is often messy.
Sorrow marked the 13th day of the new year when we made the excruciating decision to put our dog Beck to sleep forever.
Something didn’t seem right with Beck just before Thanksgiving. It took a month to get a definitive diagnosis: cancer. There was no cure, only palliative care. We all did our part to soothe and comfort him, but I became his primary nurse; ministering pills, sleeping on the couch to take him outside quickly, and washing soiled bedding. Beck’s illness was all consuming, emotionally and financially draining, and mentally exhausting. One day Beck could not stand and we knew it was time to let go.
Beck was James’s boxer puppy. They had a natural, easygoing attachment from the very moment they met. Beck slept with James, waited for the school bus to deliver James home safely, and was keenly aware of any crumbs that would inevitably fall from James’s mouth. Beck grew so large that he could rest his chin on the kitchen table, tilt his head and in one or two swift flicks of his pink tongue devour any leftovers. He was gentle, playful and loving, and a celebrated member of our family for 6 years.
He was such a beautiful part of my life – my protector, my strength, my walking buddy. He was tuned into me and my emotions, and offered his own wisdom. Seeking new consulting and writing projects was hard and time consuming. How often did I spin my wheels, waiting for projects, only to have them fall through. During Beck’s illness, I didn’t feel like pitching new business. I felt I just needed to spend time with Beck.
Losing Beck was a sucker punch that left us all gasping for air.
My heart still aches and I fall apart at unexpected moments. His big chair remains empty – a seat too big to fill. His dented blue ball lies in the yard begging him to play. A dog. A son. A life. No matter what love we have lost, the pain from that loss does not evaporate into air like wisps of steam from a kettle; it chokes you like thick smoke and lingers.
We have Stella – our little black-and-white boxer with bat-like ears who is full of wonder and comic relief. She makes us laugh and helps our transition to life without Beck.
In March, I rejoined the workforce with a global brand where there is support, infrastructure and process. The opportunity beckoned me to help rebuild a channel marketing program and make a new beginning. This is a full time gig; another transition.
My family is adjusting to me working in an office and not from home. I am adjusting, too. I miss seeing my son when he comes home from school. I miss the 3 pm snack break. I miss taking walks when I want, or driving James to practice, or back to school to pick up a forgotten piece of homework. I’m no longer around when Rob is in town and working from home. I miss lingering over morning coffee with him. I can’t opt out of a daily shower in favor of a baseball hat. I can’t arrange my workload to take a midday yoga class with a friend. I have to plan ahead for meals, grocery shopping, doing laundry and arranging carpools.
The tradeoff, however, is having a consistent income and being part of a team. I have done this before; I can hold the line.
Some of these transitions have been smooth, others have been rocky, and still more to come.
“Trust your struggle” is tattooed on the arm of a young woman I recently met. So young to have struggled, I thought. But why not? Struggle is a life lesson that makes you stronger. A struggle is also a transition; one that requires acceptance.
For every new beginning, there must be an end; for each gain, a loss. Once we accept our struggle, our transition reveals what we need to do grow, find clarity and achieve resilience.
What do you think?
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