The end of things

Published 11:07 am Wednesday, July 19, 2023

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I spent the other day at my boyfriend’s house that’s tucked into some trees at the end of a cul-de-sac. I was rushing to my car, no shoes on (are we surprised?), and saw his next-door neighbors loading up their two vehicles with their five children and several boxes, thinking they were going on vacation.

I remembered hurrying to get out the door as a kid, excited to get to the beach with an early start to the day so we’d make it there by two in the afternoon.
In the cul-de-sac, I climbed into my car and saw the family gathered on their brick porch taking a selfie. Behind them, the windows revealed an empty home––that unmistakable hollowness it has after it’s been moved out of when you can look through the windows and see out the other end of the house.
I’d never witnessed a family looking at their home for the last time.
So I stepped out of my car and asked if I could take a picture of them outside the house. They gathered on the lawn, said, “Michigan!” and I snapped the moment on the mother’s iPhone.
They piled into their vehicles, along with their dog, and I watched from my car the father lock the front door for the last time. I watched him kiss his wife as they separated in their cars for the duration of their drive to Michigan. I watched them both drive away from their home for the last time. And when they were gone, I looked at the empty house. 

With every ending, there’s a beginning.
I left the neighborhood for a few hours that day, then came back, parked my car in the same spot later that afternoon, and the cul-de-sac was full of new vehicles––HVAC vans, moving trucks, and some soccer mom cars.
I walked up on my boyfriend’s porch, looked down into the backyard and saw new children playing in the treehouse the other family left behind. Saw them swinging on the rope swing. Saw the new dog barking on the old dog’s porch. The whole residence had been reclaimed and given a new life.
Dear Diary: Sometimes, I think that as humans, we tend to see only the end of things. When someone quits a job, flies away to a new country, or moves off to a new state, we see only their sunsets. We don’t see their sunrises on the other end of that adventure.
That family? They weren’t just leaving their home behind. They were moving to Michigan to be surrounded by their family. The ending was happy, not sad.
In my experience, I’ve always been the one who stays––I’ve stayed when my friends have moved on. I’ve stayed when people have moved away. I’ve stayed and watched all the weddings, the new houses, the babies, you name it. I’ve never really seen the sunrise on their end of the adventure.
But I got to see it just the other day. It was beautiful. Like when you catch a glimpse of the rainbow after the storm.
With every ending, there’s a beginning. So I’m learning to embrace the sunsets. 

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