My grandmother died this spring. She was one of those special people that has always been there for the important moments like birthdays, graduations, Easter, Christmas, July 4th, Memorial Day. This is my first experience with this kind of grief, the grief of losing someone who materially is no longer present in this existence. It brings with it so much uncertainty about the future. It is as if I have to reimagine how to live my life. As if I am being forced to begin again. And that’s weird.
There is just something about beginnings. They’re not something we always welcome, nor are they occurrences we wish would never happened. Sometimes we desire them immensely and they cannot arrive soon enough. At other times they feel like that uninvited guest who showed up at the party and started playing Oasis and poorly performed Journey covers on your guitar (My guitar wasn’t even outside of my bedroom. How’d you find it?!). It’s like they showed up just to make you irritated at best.
Some beginnings seem relatively predictable. The first day of college or on your first grown-ass adult job are beginnings. I expected my wedding day to feel like a beginning. I was surprised when it didn’t feel that way. Then I was slightly caught up in a sense surreality when I woke up the morning after my wedding day next to my dozing bride and realized that this was the real beginning of my marriage. Beginnings: sometimes they show up on schedule; other times they have layovers on their way to a cheap resort in Puerto Vallarta. Crazy.
And then some beginnings do not feel like beginnings. Some beginnings feel like endings. Several of you just rolled your eyes and started singing Semisonic to yourself. Me too. Real trite garbage, yes? The real problem with these beginnings is that they take place within a much larger story, or stories. I’m in my late twenties. I have over two and a half decades of a story already in motion whenever I face a “new beginning.” Beyond that, I come from a family that has its own story, within the context of a region and ever changing culture with yet another story. And then there’s the planet! Archaeology, geology, anthropology, paleontology! So many -ologies to build an even more extensive story! Now start thinking about what we know about the universe beyond our own planet. Hot damn! That’s a vast, unfathomable story.
And yet we still talk about beginnings. Good story tellers know that most stories do not begin at a stand still. What is one of the most iconic aspects of all seven of the Star Wars films? That opening crawl. The score of John Williams tears triumphantly through the air and we are glued to nothing more than rolling text for 45 to 60 seconds, all to read about what is happening in the galaxy far, far away before the story even begins.
Because our beginnings always start in midst of the grander scheme of things, in the vast story. Our grief and our joy and our boredom all occur in a universe that is already rolling and expanding.
I will keep grieving until grief ebbs and flows into joy, and I will press into this new beginning; just another chapter in a volume of other beginnings.