I know we are supposed to embrace change, and that it is the only constant in life, but change often feels like loss to me — especially when change comes in bunches, like it has this year.
My grandmother died twelve years ago last week. I drove past her old house on the way to church yesterday morning and I don’t even recognize it.
Her once well-kept lawn is overgrown with weeds. Her front porch, the place of so many conversations over a cold glass of ice tea, is now hidden behind a privacy fence. The yard we played in as grandchildren is filled with junk.
Those changes weigh on me.
It takes me a little over thirty minutes to get to church now because we sold our building recently and are remodeling another facility. During the interim, we’re meeting with a sister church in another city.
I wasn’t completely attached to the old building because I have only been going there for four years. But my mom attended a couple of events there with me, and those moments are precious memories.
And a writers group I’m affiliated with held a couple of writers conferences in that old building.
A friend who taught with me at the first conference died last year after a battle with cancer. I have a picture of us standing side by side in the basement of that facility and she looks like the picture of health. We had no way of knowing she wouldn’t live long enough to attend the conference the following year.
Leaving that old building behind weighs on me.
A month or so ago, I went fishing with my buddy, Shawn, at his cabin in central Nebraska for the last time. He sold the cabin a week or two later (and he’s considering a move from the area).
For the past four years, we’ve gone fishing there on Memorial Day and the place has grown on me.
We always stop first in Central City to buy bait at Central True Value Hardware. The owners have a 19-year-old cat named Pockets who roams the store. When I asked about him this year, the clerk told me Pockets was having a bad day, so he was curled up behind the counter. The hardware store won’t be the same after Pockets passes away.
After we leave the hardware store, we head for the cabin. For a city boy, that’s always so exciting. You’ll never find me on the cover of “Field & Stream” because I love the air conditioning too much, but sitting by the lake and fishing with Shawn while shooting the breeze makes it one of my favorite days of the year.
The water is so calm that you can see your bobber move when even the smallest fish in the world starts messing with your bait. I’m speaking from experience. But I’ve caught a few big fish there, too.
Knowing that Memorial Day 2016 will be spent elsewhere weighs on me.
Last week, we lost Elisabeth Elliot. I’ve already written about how much that has affected me. The old guard of the faith is moving on to glory, and I’m not quite sure how to relate to the new guard.
That weights on me, too.
Two friends have also lost their mothers this year. In fact, I’m attending the funeral for one of them this afternoon. It’s not surprising since most of my friends are near fifty, but as we lose the generation before us, a certain knowing settles in.
We can never go back to Christmases past, or birthdays past, or anything past — and there will be no more futures with these people and/or places. In all of the cases I mentioned above, I have the memories, but I can never return to the scene to relive them.
For the non-sentimental, you are probably asking “Why not just start new traditions and make new memories?” And you are right, of course, but I still need to feel the full weight of the losses first.
Lee Warren is a freelance writer and editor who has written twelve non-fiction books, one novella and hundreds of articles for various newspapers and magazines as well as edited more than 50 books that currently appear in print. He's a fan of NASCAR, baseball, tennis, books, movies and coffee shops.