Once upon a lifetime

When I graduated from high school–never mind the year–I said to myself, “I’ll see my classmates real soon.” I wasn’t worried because it never dawned on me this would not be the case. It was exactly the case; it would be 40 years before I would see some of them again.
When I went on maternity leave after having my first baby, when we moved to another city, I said to myself, “I’ll see my co-workers again, real soon.” We hadn’t moved that far away, and, heck, “this is my work family, these are my people,” I reasoned. I soon discovered that since I was the one who moved, it would be me who initiated a visit. With a new baby, and then a second two years later, followed by a third one year after that…the visit never happened.
When we sat in the pouring rain for our last child’s last soccer game, I said to myself, “I’ll see these families again, real soon.” We’d huddled together on many a wet, cold Saturday dividing up the snack days and deciding who would bring so and so to the next game. We returned lost shin guards to the proper owners; we’d yelled and screamed together, commiserated when our team lost and cheered when they won. We all lived in the same town and our kids went to school together. We WOULD see them again, real soon. It never happened.
It was four years ago March 22nd that my mother moved to Independent Living. I recall sitting in the dining hall a few weeks prior for our first meal in mom’s new home. A friendly woman named Mary was the first to approach and introduce herself; she wanted to show mom the ropes. When Mary pointed out the group by the fireplace and mentioned they were snotty, I hid my smile. She let us know folks are served according to where one sits; on odd days, the servers start on one end of the room and on even days, the opposite. After our meal, Mary showed us her room and as we easily chatted, I said to myself, “Mom will be in great hands.” Mary passed away a year later.
Yesterday I had a mammogram and visited after with my caregiver, Martha. Several years ago when I first met her I thought, “She’s GREAT. She answers questions, she listens, and if she doesn’t know something, she will find out and get back to me. I’ve found the perfect caregiver.” I made sure I got an appointment with her this month since it would by my last. Martha will retire the end of April.

After I retired two years ago, I struggled mightily with missing my co-workers. I often imagined talking with my former boss and asking for some hours. I pictured myself back in my cozy operatory treating my patients, who would all greet me enthusiastically with “Where have you BEEN?!” and “Oh, I’ve MISSED you” comments (I can dream, can’t I?).
Letting go can be most unnerving. It’s a process. Yet, now I realize that, while it can certainly feel that your life is over, ending this or any phase is merely closing a chapter (in a VERY BIG book). It served its purpose, and now there are other “purposes” I need to be open to. This realization is liberating.

–I saw many of my high school buddies last year at my 40th class reunion. We never forget our childhood friends; we skinned our knees together, threw rocks at each other, had sleepovers, and challenged each other in class, but I wasn’t meant to see them on a regular basis. I didn’t know it then, but they helped prepare me for the next phase.

–Each dental family I left was replaced with a new one, and until I left dentistry for good, each became “my people” for a time. For whatever reason, I was meant to be in each of the offices I was in, with those people, for that length of time. Each experience prepared me for the next (and taught me what I didn’t want).
–The families we knew during our children’s growing up years are exactly the families we were meant to know. The friendships remain strong if only in my heart, because screaming together on soccer fields teaches bonding and fosters community. When we share wins and losses, smelly soccer shoes, muddy shin guards and spilled juice drinks in the car, we become, collectively, seasoned for life in the fast lane.
–Mary was a good initial friend for mom. When mom needed her, Mary was there. She taught mom to avoid the table by the fireplace, that there is choice. Mary served an important purpose, helping mom view her new life with eyes and heart wide open. Lessons learned.

When I walked out the door yesterday after my appointment, knowing I’d never see Martha again, my guts didn’t twist. It didn’t sting like the previous realizations. I knew that while this was the last time I was her patient, my experience with her prepares me for the next. I don’t necessarily see endings as endings; I’m accepting them as beginnings.
It is kind of a once in a lifetime idea, that, indeed, the best things seldom come along twice.
Just to make certain the point was driven home, the song with these very words came on the radio as I drove home. I laughed out loud, because, honestly, I could not have planned this.

Once Upon A Lifetime
Once upon a lifetime
I looked in someone’s eyes
And felt the fire burning in my heart
For the very first time
She was scared and young
And had never tasted love
So I took her by the hand
And a boy became a man
Once upon a lifetime
And once upon a lifetime
You hold the Queen of Hearts
And if you gamble on a diamond win
The dealin’ starts
You stand to lose it all
As the cards begin to fall
And the lesson learned is hard
You’re only dealt the Queen of Cards
Once upon a lifetime
So if you’re taking chances, know the chance you take
A broken heart’s a high price to pay
Foolish ways will make fools of the wise
And the best things seldom come along twice
Once upon a lifetime
You know that you’ve been blessed
When you hold your first born tenderly against your chest
And through the innocence you see
The value of a family
And you feel a special bond
That only comes along
Once upon a lifetime
So if you’re taking chances, know the chance you take
A broken heart’s a high price to pay
Foolish ways will make fools of the wise
And the best things seldom come along twice
And people only find love like yours and mine
Once upon a lifetime
Songwriters: Gary Baker / Frank Myers

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My daughter still plays. She’s on a women’s team that plays in the Spring and Fall each year.

May you recognize the moments, the times with special people that may not come again. May you cherish each and every one, and know that an end, each and every end, is a new beginning.

  13 comments for “Once upon a lifetime

  1. March 25, 2018 at 11:41 am

    That’s such a good post! I tend to be very sad when a relationship, or a phase of my life ends, but each and every time something or someone comes along to replace it. You’re right, endings are really just beginnings in many ways.

    Liked by 1 person

    • March 25, 2018 at 12:30 pm

      Thank you, Ann. Part of the reason I wrote this post was that I was reflecting on grade school friends and how some are all over a current relationship but others–those that were great friends–could care less. That baffled me a bit. Through all the good times and bad, spats and tears, I hold very dear all of those folks; they don’t always feel the same. It’s OK, though, because they/I served a purpose. Still, it makes me a bit sad, too. Just focusing on those beginnings. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  2. March 24, 2018 at 7:20 pm

    To everything there is a season. I so deeply understand the trying to hold on to friends when you move or make life changes. I’m the one who has done most of the moving and still hold those people in my heart but that’s about as good as it gets. Letting go is so hard but we don’t always have a choice. You aren’t still in Canby? That would be way to close to me here in Oregon City. 🙂 I’m sure you moved further away already.

    Liked by 1 person

    • March 25, 2018 at 12:26 pm

      That’s a great way to look at this, Marlene. A season for everything. I believe it the older I get. I was referring to our first move to our current location; I’d been working at the office in Portland for eight years and after all that time–and a fabulous boss–I hated to move. I had a feeling I’d not see them very much and I was right. I guess it’s just part of the cycle. Have a great weekend! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Amy
    March 24, 2018 at 4:39 pm

    Great post. I think we all think we will always be in touch with all the people who were our friends, but we all moved on and away, and life takes over and goes on. New friends come, and then they go also. But what I have learned—through reunions, Facebook, email—is that for those with whom you had a real bond, it is always still there. When I first got together with my three best friends from college after almost 30 years, we found that we immediately reconnected just as we had 30 years before.

    Liked by 1 person

    • March 24, 2018 at 4:53 pm

      Thanks, Amy. The same thing happened to me with college friends, but some people, even friends from grade school, don’t necessarily want the connection. It’s a bit baffling…but maybe a testament to the strength of the bond as you say. Others, the connection never dies. Also, “work friends” can be but are not necessarily friends; they are co-workers. I was quite happy to move on from most of them, honestly, but a few remain special friends. I always separated work from home life.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Amy
        March 24, 2018 at 5:03 pm

        Same with me. I was surprised by how little I missed almost all my colleagues—except the few who had become real friends outside of work. Sad but true.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Mandy
    March 24, 2018 at 1:52 pm

    This brought tears to my eyes. I struggle with loss. This gives me another perspective. Thank you.☺️

    Liked by 1 person

    • March 24, 2018 at 4:16 pm

      Hi Mandy, I’m so glad. It can be quite healing to read others’ blogs. Loss is a funny thing, and we all react in different ways. I think the biggest lesson is to allow the time to heal, and let it be a process. My best to you. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mandy
        March 24, 2018 at 6:20 pm

        Thank you, Karen. Yes, it takes time. I agree, the blog world has much to offer in finding support. ❤

        Liked by 1 person

        • March 25, 2018 at 12:23 pm

          You are very brave and giving to share with us the photos of your sweet daughter. I think it will help with the healing. ❤

          Liked by 1 person

  5. March 24, 2018 at 9:22 am

    Great post. I think we have all experienced this, but no one prepared us for all the changes. I know a couple of more changes are in my not too far off future.

    Liked by 1 person

    • March 24, 2018 at 9:26 am

      We come unprepared for sure; sometimes we are caught off guard more than others. What struck me was that I wasn’t phased at all by the change in caregivers. It didn’t really affect me. That got me to thinking about permanency, various changes I’ve endured, and how I reacted to these changes. Am I becoming hardened or seasoned? Both? 😉 I hope the upcoming changes for you are welcome and happy ones. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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