The Journey

Jimmy Chiarella

New beginnings and final goodbyes remind us to be present

I had an experience this summer that forced me to look at the cycle of life fairly holistically. It was our annual Fox family vacation at the lake house with our six adult children and 13 grandchildren. Nine days of swimming, puzzles, pickle ball, storytelling, and a whole lot of eating and laughing. It’s a week I look forward to each year.

This year’s vacation felt different, however. Same faces, same location, same intention. And yet, some significant moments occurred during the trip: the week began with the baptism of our granddaughter and ended with the long-delayed burial and funeral for my dad, who passed away the day before Thanksgiving last year. There was both joy as we looked at the possibilities for this new life and sadness and closure for a life well-lived.

As I reflect on the week, and the joyous and challenging moments it entailed, I can’t help but give thought to the cycle of life we all go through, the roller coaster of emotions we endure as we navigate our relationships, careers, successes, failures, new beginnings, and eventual goodbyes. We work so hard to reach a destination in each of these arenas, and yet all too often miss the beauty of the journey it took to get there. As we said goodbye to my dad, I was reminded that when our time to leave eventually arrives, it won’t be the farewell people will remember or the accolades we received, but rather the memories made and experiences undergone along the way.

We all make this voyage. And while it looks different for each of us, we have to remember to heed the call to smell every flower, enjoy every moment, and be grateful for the blessings we are given. It is the journey that defines us, not the end. While every day is an opportunity to share our hopes and dreams, it is also an opportunity to enjoy the present moment and be thankful for the life we are able to live.   

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