Often it seems the events perfectly crafted for celebration and thanksgiving can equally and even strangely be events that illicit grief and a murky undercurrent of loss. It’s rather hard to explain. Perhaps we grieve the loss of the familiar, even the familiar pains. While we excitedly anticipate the newness of what’s ahead, perhaps we also carry an anxious expectation about the road yet to be traveled. This particular road does not come with a map or GPS device, and we will only travel it once. At best, this journey is preceded by friends who’ve traveled a similar road themselves, offering advice on what we may encounter or can expect. “I remember my first day on the job,” some say. Or, “I was so excited to finally be done with school and get my first, ‘real’ paycheck.” Rarely do they say that they were scared or sad to leave familiar surroundings, or that the happiness and excitement were accompanied by tears. Mystery and the unknown, it seems, can make us terribly uncomfortable.
Do you remember a time in your youth when you tried wearing a favorite shirt, pair of pants, or shoes, only to discover that your body had outgrown your clothes? Those shoes that you once proudly wore now hurt your feet. Or those pants that could always give you a boost of confidence now look ridiculous on you. Perhaps this is what Thomas Wolfe meant when he observed that we “can’t go home again.” We can’t relive the good times. Even if we could return to the familiar, would we want to stay? Would we be welcomed?
Thomas Wolfe, commemorative postage stamp, 2000, oil on paper, 5 x 8, U.S. Postal Service. by Michael J. Deas, copyright Michael J. Deas / www.michaeldeas.com/