This was a day of endings and beginnings, for looking back and moving forward.
It's late now, after midnight. The football game and our team's season are over, the television and stereo silent. My son has gone to bed, his friends gone home, the echoes of good-natured shouting and cheering fading even as car doors slammed and engines revved their way to a quiet distance through the night streets.
Outside it is raining, not hard, just enough to coat the deck boards with a cold wet gloss, enough to mirror the white glitter of holiday lights still strung along the rails.
My lifting muscles are pleasantly sore, a small scrape on the back of my hand evidence of the afternoon's labour. My daughter has called three times since the last box was unloaded and I drove away into the waning rays of a winter sun painting the rain clouds on the horizon, the sound of our voices reassuring both of us as she settled into the unfamiliar campus apartment.
The day began early with caffeine and coffeecake, camaraderie and conversation, the confident direction of an experienced Board turning over heavy files and weighty responsibilities to the apprehensive yet eager vision of the new. The pleasure and honour of two years' hard work and stewardship balanced by the guilty, almost giddy relief of finally handing it off to the care of others, knowing ours was a job well done, trusting their effort will be no less.
Now at the end of the day it is quiet. I am tired but reluctant to get up and go to bed, to shift the warm slumber of the cat snuggled against my side, disturb the utter stillness of the night. The tree in the corner seems to stand a bit taller tonight, as if it knows these are its last moments as a fragrant shining symbol of past laughter and tears, of future hopes and dreams, its lights reflecting a bit brighter on ornaments that tomorrow will return to storage to wait for their next season, the next tree.
Tomorrow there is work to be done, one more year of memories to carefully wrap and pack away, needles to vacuum, boxes to be filled. But tonight is peaceful with the quiet contentment of things accomplished, ended to make way for the future.