If time is a river

If time is a river, it is a river with rapids and falls.

We snipped another month off our wall calendar on Saturday, the first day of May, leaving just four months to go before we pack up and leave our house in Johannesburg and begin the long journey home, to Toronto.

The calendar now truncated, cut short, a token not just of progress towards an end date or goal, but of impending loss.

My grandson, Tom, on his 4th birthday this week

I hadn’t realised, I realise now, how much the prospect of leaving South Africa was affecting me. I imagined I was down because of all of the recent dramas in our family, because of the seemingly endless Covid lockdown, because I was tired and distracted – but it struck me this morning that while it is all of these things, it is also the emotion damming up, the water gathering before it heads into the rapids and spills over the falls, the river of time hastening towards partings and goodbyes.

Leaving means leaving Tom, and Kath, and Gareth, and my mom; not a place, but people, not a past but the present.

You carry on, you are busy, there are things to do etc. – and then it hits you on the head. To paraphrase John Lennon, life is what happens when you are busy with other stuff.

So here’s the thing. In novels, you expect, there is a happy ending, or a sad ending, or in any case, an ending of sorts. The last page turned, the story done. Or, in self-help books, there is always ‘the message’ – of upliftment, or growth, of change or hope.

There is no message here.

Leaving just sucks. That’s all there is to it.

Which is not to say, I want to stay in South Africa – I don’t – or that I am not looking forward, each waking moment, to returning to Canada and my family there.

I am ready to go, but I don’t want to leave.

You got that, right?