There is sadness at the end. I seem to be feeling it more and more as the days of summer ebb quickly away, that soulful undercurrent of sorrow that seems to swirl around me. Most of the time I can barely perceive the melancholy tide until it surges around me and I feel overcome by the grief of finality.
I know it probably sounds rather melodramatic, but I have felt such deep sadness of late. I am at the very last page of a chapter. My childhood is truly gone, completely and utterly, and I stand here now as an adult without any last vestiges of my springtime of life left to hold. Perhaps it is having been a voracious reader since I was a toddler, but I have always been aware of how my life’s seasons were slipping by as I turned new pages and started new sections.
There is a grief to growing up, a grief that aches and longs. I don’t know if most young people feel it now like I do, but I am sad to be leaving childhood behind. I keep thinking about how I used to lie on my back and watch dust settle, or spend hours in the fields outside picking ragweed and thistles and pretending to be a wizard-apothecary, or even just spending late nights laughing with my friends over games of Truth or Dare and Mafia. My dad recently mentioned that it made him sad to realize that he no longer gave me nicknames anymore. When I was younger he used to give me a new name each day: Pumpkin for Monday, Little Rat for Tuesday, JoJo for Wednesday, Spunks for Thursday, Madagascar (my least favorite) for Friday. Now the nicknames are ending. I’m his adult daughter now. Even if I’ll always be his little girl in his heart the reality is that I start college in four weeks.
Summer Day Camp has also come to a close. Each year it seems to go by quicker and quicker. Catching the days going by is like holding a handful of sand; pretty soon you are left with palms empty. It was my tenth summer I spent at Day Camp, my fifth being in charge of young children. This was the year I graduated from being a Junior Counselor and became a bona fide Counselor Counselor. It was an amazing experience of joy and pain, frustration and exhileration, pride and humility. I loved my team so much, from the girls I got to watch grow up from toddlers, to the amazing JCs who worked tirelessly in my stead. But beyond that I loved Mariah and Hannah, my fellow co-Counselors, and most importantly Ms. Carmen Snyder, my leader for the past five summers and one of the most godly, selfless, wonderful people I have ever met. They all make me want to be a better person in every way.
It’s over now. It was a hard summer but a beautiful one and now it has come to an end. I didn’t think I would be as sad as I am about Day Camp ending, with all its long days under the hot Tennessee sun and constant refinement in every area, but now that it is over I feel like I just want to cry because I miss it already. I managed to keep my composure on the Last Day in from of the kids, but I watched them crying as we cleaned out our cubbies and hugging their friends who would go back home to a different state and I felt their heartache. This chapter has closed. The school year will begin in moments. Everything is about to change. Even the dark grey storm clouds over our heads seemed to echo the sentiment of loss that we all felt.
I know that my melancholic nature over growing up must practically be a recurring joke in all my writings. Sometimes I wish I could just be like most teenagers and have no nostalgia or lamentations over the fleeting nature of life until I was at least out of college and drifting aimlessly in an attempt at discovering my identity. But I have always been a melancholy person; a pensive sadness has always been at the center of the Maddie Experience. Underneath the snarky humor, the wide-eyed enthusiasm, and the bookish intelligence, my personality has always been undercut by a mournful grief over how quickly time passes. It is a quiet current, it doesn’t try to obnoxious, but it is merely there as a reminder of how life goes on inexorably without my consent.
Perhaps this is why I admire brave people. There are people out there like my Uncle Ben, who has fought cancer for over 30 years and has never stopped living life to the fullest. Or my mother, who puts herself out there without any concern about her self. Or even my friends who push down that scared little voice inside them and banish their insecurities away so they can go on adventures and behave gloriously. I have always been fascinated by people who dive into something head first, grabbing the bull by the horns and going all in to everything they do. That courage is inspiring and it makes me want to be a braver person.
The next season of my life is arriving. It is kind of funny that I’m ending the summer of 2015 to enter the summer of my life. College stands before me as this exciting, yet terrifying beacon, moving ever closer. So much is about to happen in these next four years that I can scarcely comprehend it. Adulthood is here and I am finally coming round to accepting it fully. Yet I don’t think it is bad to feel sadness over what I have lost. I’ve grown up and I have lost parts of myself to time, but I think now is the time to enter a new period of expansion. Now I must mold and shape my identity into what it will likely be for the rest of my life as God leads, yet I must also never forget who I am, who I’ve always been. This is a time of change but it is also a time of preservation, and even though I am sad, I believe I am ready.