Ever since I was little, I’ve had this terrible fear of things ending.
I remember no happier times than when I was running around at recess with my friends, pretending we were riding horses or that we were animals, or even those earliest days when I would play with the boys and we would pretend to fight great battles. I had this undying love for the stories we imagined and couldn’t wait till I could go back outside to keep playing. But the older I got, the more I dreaded the recess bell that would end our game. I began to fear that we’d never resume, that my friends would move on and I would never know what happened next.
And so when I got older and I started to realize that the very thing I feared was happening–my friends were losing interest in games of pretend–this growing feeling of loss and sadness filled my heart. I didn’t want it to end.
Similarly, I was struck with a sense of desperation when my family went on a Disney cruise when I was little. A Disney cruise is, of course, filled to the brim with magic, and I remember one night we went to a restaurant where the waiter showed me and my sister how to fold a napkin into some sort of cool origami shape. I was mystified, but I remember being upset as soon as the waiter left, because I already couldn’t remember how to fold the napkin. I never wanted to forget it. I didn’t want to lose that magic he’d given me.
(I’m sad to say I never did remember how to fold the napkin, but I guess if I really wanted to, I could Google it. How wonderful and awful the Internet is…)
Then fast forward a bit to when I met my new group of friends in grade seven. One of my most cherished memories with them is writing collaborative stories and roleplays, because it reminded me of the recess days when I would create fantastic stories from imagination. The writing was another thing I didn’t want to end, but alas, end it has.
And looking back on all of this, I still feel wistful. I have since learned to cope with endings, realizing that memory and nostalgia are powerful tools for capturing magic, but sometimes I still struggle with the idea of good things ending. (Which probably helps explain my sadness over The Hobbit conclusion…) And so sometimes I can’t help but feel a touch of emptiness when adventures end.
Harry Potter, The Chronicles of Ancient Darkness, Ranger’s Apprentice–I was sad to see all those book series end and to realize that the world and the characters I’d fallen in love with were no longer going to be a part of my life. Brave Story, one of my absolute favourite books, was another painful ending, because not only did the adventure end, but the main character also started to forget it. How painful it was, how unbearable it was for my heart to comprehend that the character I loved so dearly was going to forget the incredible things he’d experienced and the amazing friends he’d made. That’s an ending I don’t like to think about. And maybe that’s why I reread it every year…
So I’m an endophobic, and also a writer. Which means that my fear of endings has also extended into my work. Some days, I regret killing the characters I have, or I dread the day I’ll write the last page of a particular adventure. Perhaps this is why so many authors write spinoffs and spinoffs of spinoffs. Perhaps they don’t want to leave the story they’ve written for so many years.
And maybe this is why there’s such a fear of death.
Death is the end, isn’t it? The end of all things, when we cease to exist in this world, we cease to see those we love and cease to write our story upon it. Maybe there’s something in the afterlife, but I think the fact that we don’t know for sure it terrifying. Will I be ready? Will I have written the story I wanted?
And will I be able to cope with not knowing what comes next?
Endings still scare me, and they will continue to do so likely for the rest of my life. I still have that part inside me that doesn’t ever want to let go or forget. But this is not entirely a bad thing, no. Because if I can remind myself that it will end, I can remind myself to enjoy it even more, to be fully alive and aware and commit it to memory as vividly as possible. I can remind myself that life is something to be enjoyed, that the adventure is something to be wholly felt, that friends are something to be appreciated.
Because if I should reach the end and discover that I am to forget the whole adventure, I want to at least know that it was worth it.
What scares you?
May you never fear the end, but live in this moment feeling wholly alive.