The other night I had a disturbing dream. I was a proselyting, name tag wearing missionary for my church again (after not having done that in real life in almost 13 years, something common only to young single people, and older people who’s children had already left home in my faith). I was transferred to what I knew would be the last area I would serve in before going home. Like many other areas I had served in in my dream, I arrived in the area after a well known favorite missionary of everyone had left. He was a cool kid I knew from high school, who in real life hadn’t served in my mission at all.
The neighborhood I was living in didn’t look familiar to anywhere I’ve actually been. Months of missionary service went by, except for this mission was being served amongst people my wife and I had known in Colorado where we actually just moved to Utah from last summer. There were people from church as well as students and professors from college. Someone caught wind of the fact that my time for going home was getting closer. So other missionaries I lived by suddenly packed up my stuff for me and piled it up in an empty house at the end of the street, which street was intersected by a more busy main road. I was no longer allowed to be part of the work and even forgotten and shunned by all the people I had known and loved until a speed train whizzed by and sucked me out of that place, presumably to take me back home. The feeling was a horribly thick sense of loneliness like I’d never felt.
The way my dream worked out is far from what it was actually like to serve a mission for my church, but it taught me something. I don’t do well when things come to an end, especially good things and things I put a lot of energy into. You’ve all heard of short-timer syndrome which refers to the time between when someone turns in their two week notice and when they actually leave work for the last time. This usually means the one leaving gets lazy in their work duties and itchy to leave. But you never hear the flip side of that.
Some years ago, I worked in a nice little all-natural meat shop. It was a fun enough job with nice co-workers, but it paid next to minimum wage and had no benefits. I had had to take the job because my previous job which was supposed to take me off into the sunset with all kinds of hours and money ended up stiffing me by only giving me one day per week and expecting me to be on call all of the other days. Anyhow, I heard the county jail was hiring correctional officers, so I submitted an application. On the form, there was the question asking if they could speak with my current employer. I said no. I had no idea how soon they would be conducting the background check, and I didn’t want them giving my work my notice for me.
Too bad! I came into work one afternoon to have my manager ask me, “So you want to be a corrections officer do ya?” They were somewhat understanding. They knew I had a family to take care of. But from that moment on, until I was able to start at the academy A WHOLE MONTH LATER, they pretty much treated me like a poopy pants stranger. No fun at all. Suddenly no one really wanted to talk to me anymore. It was a pretty sad time in contrast to when everyone was my friend.
Plenty of other times in my life have taken on a similar sad and lonely feeling. I knew I would graduate in the Spring of 2001, but I never really saw the end of high school coming. Me and all my would-be friends scattered from the town like cockroaches almost the very next day. Yet when I started high school, it seemed like it would never end. Afterall, it never did on “Saved by the Bell”, or was that just a side affect of watching too many reruns?
My playing club volleyball my junior year of high school came to an end one windy bright sunny day under a pavillion at a local park. Our Hawaiian coach had lined up a little luau to be catered for us. The food was great, but volleyball was over. What was designed to be our “victory celebration” (we came in at about 5th place and had a great time doing it) felt more like a funeral.
I’ve never enjoyed being the one who has to “turn off the lights and lock’er up” in any situation. I get the feeling many others feel the same way seeing as how they all find reasons to leave before clean-up time as well.
How does one deal with this? It seems one phase of life is constantly ending as another one picks up with nothing to get me through the in-between. One minute you and grandpa are having a great time out golfing. The next it seems, he remembers neither who you are or his own daughter. I know I should just be happy to have had the chance to go to a decent high school in Suburbia. I know that something like playing on the volleyball team is a reward in and of itself. But…for someone who suffers from clinical depression it does little to soothe the pain.