It’s not like having the flu or a cold, where I know I will get better, but chances are I’ll get sick again, one day.
It’s not like when I cut my hair short for the last time and I said to my friends this will be it because I’m past that age and I’ll never have long hair again. Or the time I graduated from school and said no more to the books and the learning. Or the time I carried that second child in my belly, thinking he would be the last.
It’s not even like the horrible monthly period (or, in my case, the random, whenever-it-felt-like-showing-up exclamation point) arriving with gifts of discomfort and promise at the same time, and the inevitable draining away of life-blood and possibility.
No, this thing I’m talking about is not like any of those things. This time, the end is really the end. Period.
It’s a Change, for sure, and not a thing I hear talked about much, except in jokes, of course, the way we joke about “women things.” I’m supposed to be grumpy and fragile and tearful and moody, I understand, and have hot flashes and sleeplessness and the rest.
But no one told me I’d be sad.
And feel so rotten and bleed and bleed and bleed, and I’m sorry if it’s not the thing to talk about but it’s The Thing right now and I’m too worn with it to filter or flower it much.
I don’t know what it is or has been like for you because of the no talking about it, but this is the way it is for me. Messy and uncomfortable and sad.
All those other things I thought were The End: the haircut and the graduation and the pregnancy? They weren’t, because I have grown my hair long again, and I’ve picked up new books and learned new things, and I had another baby after the one who wasn’t the last, after all.
But this thing that’s happening now, this CHANGE, it seems like the beginning of the end.
And endings can be a bit troublesome, so there.
If I sound despairing, I don’t intend to be. I mostly smile and I mostly feel like smiling, and I mostly love and appreciate and treasure and value all the moments in all the days, and I mostly have fun or at least find meaning. I know I’m blessed and my life is beautiful and Jesus loves me. I know all that; I really do.
But my body is doing a normal getting-older thing right now and it comes with words like autumn of your life and upper age brackets and a whole lot of silver in my hair, and it’s making me just a little bit crazy with the implications.
There. I said it out loud and I didn’t die.
But, menopause has taught me that I will. I suppose that’s been the sobering lesson in it all. These red stained past few months are marking a transition. Midway, or more. Nearer the end than the beginning, and all that.
The thing is, even though things are changing, I’m still here. I’m just where I am, right now, at this point in my story and there are lots of stories left. There are things I’m just beginning. Things I’m just now starting to understand and many, many things I want to learn.
Menopause has helped me realize that, yes, things end and endings can be sad, but they are also an important part of the story.
You are just where you are, right now, at your important part of your important story, and who knows, really, where you might go? There is always something to do, somewhere to go, someone to love.
Sometimes, things that feel like the end are really just the beginning of something new. Sometimes, an ending is the first step into a glorious renewal. And sometimes, change is as much about gaining as it is about losing.
My friend, Menopause, taught me that.