I’ve always been good at writing beginnings and endings because nobody really cares much about the middle. I slave over the first sentence (called “the lede”) and the last (“the kicker”) of a story until they sound completely tossed off the top of my head while, at the same time, knocking you on your ass.
The way I deal with beginnings and endings in real life is a different story. The beginning of most anything – going to a new school, starting a new job, beginning a new relationship, even becoming a new dad – always filled me with anxiety. I guess it makes sense as you really don’t know what you’re doing or exactly how and where you fit in. You’re stumbling around in the dark until one day when you see the light and officially enter the middle – the part, in real life, that everybody cares about the most.
Beginnings can also be great fun, especially in the relationship department. There are few things better in life than when you first feel that magical spark that connects you with someone special. Anxiety quiets down and stumbling straightens out and all you’re left with is an incredible feeling of light. And that alone makes beginnings about a million times better than those dreaded ends.
Other than in the movies, endings kinda suck. And I’m not just talking about death. Endings are painful because they make you face certain truths about yourself – the kind of truths that can rock you to your core – and there’s really no way to run away from them. Although, God knows, I’ve tried. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve ducked out of someone’s going-away party at work because I couldn’t tolerate the feeling of saying goodbye. Maybe it’s just a classic abandonment issue or maybe it’s that I don’t like to feel the pain of losing someone. And that goes double (times a million) for saying goodbye to someone I’ve loved.
When my mom was dying of cancer, I tried my best to run away and escaped into the loving arms of the woman who would become my wife, hoping that I could somehow dodge the pain bullet. And even though I didn’t cry at my mom’s funeral, the heartbreak eventually barged in and knocked me on my ass.
And speaking of heartbreak and crying, I’ve called it quits with three women in my life who’ve I’ve loved and it was like facing my own death each and every time. There was no dodging of bullets. On the contrary, they ripped through my heart until it felt like it was no longer there.
But that’s not to say that all endings are final. After some time, an interesting thing happens when you get back to the middle of your life. The part that you thought was dead and gone – all of the reasons why you loved someone in the first place – miraculously heals and comes back to life and when you think of that person, it no longer feels sad and painful.
In fact, that part lives on in your heart until the day you die.