You don’t remember the first separation you ever experienced, the one that came after nine months of life with your closest relative.
Then came another separation, from the breast or bottle. That separation was more gradual than the first, and as a reward we were able to take nourishment in the form of candy, potato chips and hot dogs.
Starting to attend school is one of the major separations in life. Some children cry in terror at the thought of going to school. Others weep for joy. School separates us from the familiarity of home.
To some, home was a security blanket, to others it was a wall that we yearned to climb, so that the beyond could be explored. For some, school offered new friendships, stimulating experiences and adventure. For others, school was an escape from boredom, or neglect, or perhaps even from abuse.
Going to summer camp was another separation experience that is treated differently by each child.
To some, it was a time of trying to cling onto the parent dropping us off, followed by the miseries of homesickness. To others it was a opening to the greens of the forest, the blues of sparkling waters and unfamiliar sounds in the night.
High school brings separation from the familiarity of the local neighbourhood, exposure to unfamiliar teachers, strange routines and loss of childhood companions.
Some are ready for the even greater separation that enrolling in university requires. Separation from home, parents, siblings, familiar neighbourhood can bring on maturity or rampant immaturity, self-discipline or running the streets like an ill-disciplined dog on the loose.
The first full-time job separates us from dependency upon others. It may require taking a position
Up North, Out West, or even overseas. This relocation is no longer just a daily commute from home, nor a semester-long absence. Absence from home may last a year, or even a lifetime.
With a career comes a salary, but also separation from some of it when income tax time comes.
I separated from 30 years of big city life in Toronto to a home in a clearing carved out of a forest, five kilometers from the nearest village.
Marriage involves separation too. Single friends drift away. Couples who have children form separate social circles from the singles and the childless couples. Eventually comes the empty nest syndrome. Our children move away in search of employment and big city life.
We tend to outlive our pets. When they depart, the sadness of separation comes.
Eventually, there comes downsizing from a 1,200 square foot home, plus a couple of storage sheds, to a ten by twelve long-term care residence. Eventually, we become separated from our accumulation of stuff.
We are but pilgrims here. “There ain’t no pockets in a shroud and there’s no U-haul trailer towed behind a hearse.”
Separation: it’s part of life. It’s inevitable.