Things end. And I hate it. At the moment I am dealing with two things, one that has ended, another that will end sooner than I want it to and I hate that both of these things are happening.
The first thing I hate is that someone I love decided they no longer loved me. This happens every day to people all over the world. It usually goes unremarked upon by all but the directly-involved parties (and their very patient friends) because it is unremarkable.
But that doesn’t change the fact that it is the most profoundly sad thing in the entire world. To be sure, other things are more unjust (genocide, most glaringly, but even getting passed over for a job by a less qualified candidate or getting the same grade on a test as someone who cheated). But nothing is just as stupidly sad as someone you love deciding they no longer love you. There are no great moral lessons to learn, no speeches to be made, no gavels to pound. There is maddeningly little to do but sit and be very sad.
The second thing that I hate is that my 93-year-old grandfather had a stroke and is in a rehab hospital. For years, I was his only immediate grandchild and our bond is very deep.
In 1934, when he was 14, my grandfather attended the famous “Sneaker Game,”—the NFL Championship between the Chicago Bears and the New York Giants at the Polo Grounds in New York City. The night before the game the field froze. At halftime, the Giants found themselves trailing 10-3 and they had been slipping all over the field. Someone ran out and got basketball sneakers from a local college team and the Giants stopped slipping around, scored 27 points in the 4th quarter and won the championship.
I have heard my grandpa tell this story many times and I hate that there is quickly coming a time when I won’t hear it ever again. People who are 93 do not have a long time left to live. But that doesn’t change the fact that I want them to live forever.
Above my bed is a sheet of notebook paper with the words “Welcome Everything, Push Away Nothing,” in big letters. I wrote them after listening to a podcast from the San Francisco Zen Center in which the woman giving the dharma talk offers up this line a few times.
When my grandpa was in Hawaii during World War II he wrote letters to a woman he thought he was going to marry. When the war ended, he flew back to New York and found out she was engaged to another man. A few years ago, we were sitting in his kitchen and I asked him if that made him upset. “I imagine it did at the time. It doesn’t anymore.” He shrugged. Welcome Everything, Push Away Nothing.
Accepting that things are over (are ending) is hard. Each day brings unsuspecting reminders that things have changed (are changing). It seems absurdly insufficient to say that it’s just a part of life. But guess what? It’s just a part of life.
Here’s a little solace: I hate that these things are ending because I have loved them so much.