How do we cope with the end of an era?
I don't know about you, but when things happen that are expected but not necessarily wished for, I tend to say 'It's the end of an era, but that's progress'.
What exactly does that mean, though? Am I resigning myself to the fact that among the hopes and dreams of every day life we should expect to experience sadness when change occurs?
"I know I'm a natural worrier and it's taken until my 40s, to acknowledge that, but I now know not to make it the 'be all and end all' that decides how something plays out."
I know I'm a natural worrier and it's taken until my 40s, to acknowledge that, but I now know not to make it the 'be all and end all' that decides how something plays out.
Take this week for instance. I had to stand by while my daughter had to say goodbye to some of the people who have helped shape her little world for the past eight years at primary school. It usually is a highly-strung event, the last week of the summer term. Where we flit from end of term reports to end of term concerts, fundraiser finales and the bittersweet end played out in leavers play and the last leavers assembly.
Normally I observe this symphony of sadness from afar as I've never had a child involved. But this year, with just one year left at primary for my eldest, was the cold realisation that after just about getting to grips with the past decade of becoming pregnant, having a baby, battling through toddlerhood, choosing primary schools, watching as teachers come and and go just as you've managed to maintain a status quo of teaching and learning styles for your child - they had to go and mention the H word. High school.
High school is natural progression but in our house I have a 10 year old who is already working out which school she should go to, based on who she'd like to see everyday and who she'd rather emigrate for than sit next to on the high school bus. I try and explain in a patient, sympathetic way that that isn't really very important because no matter what you think it will look like, adding best school results and academic aspirations into the mix, you just can't expect to be with the same people every day for the rest of your school life.
She's a bit of a dichotomy my eldest, because she worries but to counteract this, she ignores the real things she should worry about and opts for the fantasy instead, visualising pony trekking as part of the curriculum perhaps and how they might get to visit the schools of those who've chosen a different one just so they can all see each other and be in 'school' together one more time.
My youngest daughter on the other hand has had to already develop a pragmatic and detached approach to friendship at the tender age of six. In her short three years at primary school, she has watched more friends and teachers go than most children do in an entire tenure at primary school.
Her resolute manner saddens me as she is now growing up believing that at some point you won't see that person you play with every day but they will leave and you will have to start all over again. The reason this saddens me is because one, you shouldn't really have to worry about losing friends and memories at such a young age but because I experienced this at primary school - but for very different reasons.
I went to primary school on the east coast of Northern Ireland at the end of the '70s, and at the time there were several RAF bases, one of which was three miles from our little fishing village. As a direct result of this the primary school was populated with RAF children as well as a smattering of local children.
It was a fantastic little school, run by quite strict teachers looking back but it was a community school with a difference, it survived and embraced change every two years as we all said hi, made friends and learnt side by side for two years and then said goodbye to those children whose families were moving on to a new RAF base. It was cruel looking back and I think that has impacted on how I've made friends until quite recently, when I realised that if I don't want to, I don't have to make new friends every two years.
Of course, life doesn't always work like that. People are taken from you sometimes and there's nothing you can do about it. Last autumn I lost to cancer probably the person that I have been friends with the most in my entire lifetime. I always believe that friendship should be easy. With Victoria it was flawless in this respect. We were easy friends. I only ever knew Vik with cancer so for some of you it might sound strange saying it was the best form of friendship.
I met her through another school mum when she was first diagnosed with breast cancer and it became the catalyst for our bond and rather warped sense of humour, as the day I met her she was sat with a blonde bob shaped wig on. She turned to me and explained it was the first time she had worn it and did I think it looked natural. I took a quick scan of her perfectly turned out frame. She was very petite with the most beautiful smile and piercing blue eyes and I just blurted out, 'Hon you could wear a bin bag and I still wouldn't notice the hair!". And that was that, our friendship ambled through eight years of highs and lows, but always in comfort and enjoyment. To me, even to this day when I'm chatting to her (I know she's listening wherever she is) it's always with a smile on my face but forever tinged with sadness and the regret that I didn't get a lifetime of her but I did get four times the length of my average friendship, growing up.
So, are things meant to come to a natural end? Maybe good things only last for a time. One thing's for sure, we can never predict and I think it probably means enjoy them for what they are, for they are merely fleeting moments in a lifetime of up and downs.