All my life’s a circle, sunrise and sundown
The moon rolls through the nighttime, till the daybreak comes around
All my life’s a circle but I can’t tell you why
The season’s spinnin’ round again the years keep rollin’ by
It seems like I’ve been here before, I can’t remember when
But I got this funny feelin’ that I’ll be back once again
There’s no straight lines make up my life and all my roads have bends
There’s no clear-cut beginnings and so far no dead-ends
– Harry Chapin “Circle”
September seems to be the month where everything happens. The best events of my life happen in September: moving to London, my first play reading, my first half marathon. The worst events in my life and those of my family’s lives happen in September: my mother’s mother dying (9/16/82) while my mother was pregnant with my brother, my Poppop dying (9/25/01), my parents’ divorce, my Nonie dying (9/21/13).
And now, this: my Poppop’s second wife suffering a stroke.
We haven’t had much of a relationship in the fourteen years since my grandfather’s death, but I can’t help but be deeply saddened by her pain and the impending end to her story. Death and suffering never seem fair, even if 89 good years have led up to it. I feel as though one would always wish a death with dignity and peace on those they love and, even, on their enemies.
But, then again, I have always been an idealist.
And so, September rolls on – creating with it bigger and more unforgettable life events, whether I want it to or not.
My year abroad marked the best and most rewarding year in my life. I could never forget carrying my three, overstuffed, blue suitcases through the JFK terminal, thoughts of “this is really happening” racing through my mind like an unbound puppy. I was nervous and excited and oh so very happy. I had no idea what London would hold; no clue that I would make incredible friends who inspire me and coax me towards my own self-imposed boundaries, knocking my walls of “can’t” and “no” over with their example and encouragement. I did not know of the places I would journey while living in London: Wales, France, Italy, Switzerland, a 60s club in some guy’s Soho basement. I had little idea how my craft would develop, how I would grow confident in academia and in the my art. I mean – I wrote a play! Who knew?
Near the end of my time in London, I called my Nonie, bravely battling her first encounter with cancer. I told her of my plans to hand in my dissertation early and spend some time alone in Paris. She ooed and ahhed in all of the correct places, my perpetually perfect listener, and then, very quietly, she said to me, “I think it’s time for you to come home now.”
I was torn between the love I held (and still hold) for this sensational, magnificent woman and the love I had developed for myself in this city where I inexplicably felt like home – where I felt like the best part of myself.
I assured her that my ticket home was booked and that she would be the first person I would see.
A year later, I spoke the eulogy at her funeral, a valiant fight with cancer ended, the battle won by the demon disease that destroyed the goodness inside of her.
The following year, I was bent over, hands on my knees, sobbing as I crossed the finish line after a 13.1 mile race. $1,000 raised for the American Cancer Society in my Nonie’s name.
A year later, I am faced with the drive to Geisinger Medical Center, the same drive my family took fourteen years previously to visit my ailing Poppop.
Time… Such a funny thing.
I am reminded of Martha Beck’s lessons on fear. She spoke of the Western view of our lives – how we view things linearly. You are born out of original sin and you work your entire life to become worthy enough to earn a proper afterlife. The Eastern views on life are different – they’re cyclical. Like a lotus flower, we peel away our layers until we realize we already had the divine within us. All of life is a circle, a cycle. Beginning and ending and continuing, ever on.
Apparently, like a school child waiting for summer to end and classes to begin, my cycle begins and ends in September.