Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Closing Chapters

When One Door Closes.....
Originally uploaded by

These past couple of days have involved the beginning process of closing some significant chapters in my life.

First, on Tuesday, I participate in my last court case at the San Francisco Superior Court. I have worked in San Francisco as a Child Protective Social worker for 21 years. I have been on the stand hundreds of times testifying as an expert witness, and have had the pleasure of serving with many wonderful dependency court judicial officers and attorneys. This part of my career has been very rewarding. Many years ago when I was the single father of one two year old child, my daughter, I had a choice to make. Switch careers, and go to law school, or buy a house. I had saved some money, and had enough to get started in school, or to put a down payment on a house. I chose the house. Financially, it was an excellent decision. To nurture my love of the judicial process, I worked for many years as a liaison between CPS and the Courts, then spent the majority of my career specializing in the juvenile dependency area. I have been very happy with my choice, and feel like I contributed quite a bit. I never imagined that I would walk away from it, but then I never imagined that I would have my life shattered by the early death of a spouse. Suddenly, my priorities changed, and I recognized a need to make a change.

The second chapter that I closed happened today. At times in the past, I have written about my Therapy Tuesday. Well, this week it had to be rescheduled to Wednesday due to my last court hearing, and today was my last session. I met my therapist about three years ago when Michael and I were trying to adjust to the changes in our relationship that were due to his being diagnosed with a fatal illness. I don't quite remember how I selected our therapist, but once we began meeting with him, I knew that we would benefit greatly benefit from his nurturing guidance. Very soon into our work as a couple I made up my mind that I would return to this therapist when Michael eventually died. You see, we were never really given any false hope that he would survive his brain tumor, only that we could try to get as much time together as possible. My decision to return to the place where Michael and I did our couples work was a good one. It allowed me to get through this early part of my grief work with the comfort of Michael still having his place on the couch next to me. Often when I was speaking, or crying, in a session, I would reach over the my right side, and rest my hand on Michael's imaginary thigh. My therapist always noticed this, and would help me to understand what I was needing by doing so.

Putting myself back into the same space that Michael and I occupied together was also a way to challenge myself. At times it became quite emotionally painful to sit there in a room where his presence was clearly missing. The only other place that holds that sense of presence is our bed. I have spent the last 9 months working through my grief, with a place for Michael to sit and observe. I have spent the last 9 months working through my grief, with no room for any denial that he is gone. It has been a wonderfully rewarding process, and I will always cherish the gift of guidance that my therapist afforded me during this time. As I walked out of the building, I felt like the wind had just been knocked out of me. Yet, rather than allow it to pull me back, I took a deep breath, acknowledge the intensity of the moment, and kept walking forward.

Closing chapters in our lives can be scary. Sometimes they provide us with a sense of well being, especially if that chapter was a particularly difficult one. All I know, is that I want to close these chapters, and others in the next couple of weeks, with a feeling of integrity, strength, satisfaction and peace. This will allow me to begin this upcoming new chapter in my life with no regrets. On the contrary, I will begin this new chapter with an open heart and mind.


  1. As you know, I'm in a similar place re: closing a chapter of my life and starting a new one. I can really relate to what you wrote here, and I wish you peace of mind as you close this chapter and move forward.

  2. It's a feeling to know that everything has been done before you close one chapter to begin the next. Yes, it can be scary, but it sounds like you're managing very well. It's almost certain that you're going to experience some major changes as you leave behind a lot of responsibility - and for that matter, a lot of history that goes well beyond the personal. However, who can guess what's ahead. Perhaps something incredibly interesting lies around the next bend. That's what next chapters are for.

  3. my "next chapter" started the day of my husband's funeral. i remember leaving the funeral. i remember changing into jeans and a turtleneck, heavy sweater, and snow boots. i remember loading the truck. and i remember going to the beach one last time. the drive over the bridge to leave the cape was terrifying and mind-numbing. i had no choices in anything. the crumbs of the life i have left that i have managed to gather are all that i have. my children and my Dragon are my great blessings in this life.

    the beautiful thing about your next chapter is it comes to you with the selection of what city, which little house, what you will take, and what you will give away. as hard as it will be for you to say goodbye to what you have known for 21 years: job, co-workers, friends, your home; as frightening as it will be for you, being able to have that kind of control over your life and your choices is so much better than not.

    i wish you all the peace of mind you can find and gather to yourself and your family.

  4. cheering you on the whole way!
    love and prayers from Alaska

  5. Dan,
    I wish I had something profound to say......Your post has moved me greatly. I admire your courage and your strengh - you are an inspiration.

  6. I appreciate how your story and where you are right now helps those of us out there closing and opening our own doors. It is good to "learn" from another who has paved the way so to speak and traveled in places we need to go. You provide insight, courage and inspiration for us and I really thank you for that.