The Cure for Melancholy

Today, my daughter’s Big Girl Bed arrives. Today, I put away the crib that has been in one bedroom or another for six years, the crib I once arranged lovingly, tying little knots into bows and folding soft blankets in preparation.

The ends of things have always saddened me. My family still jokes about the car ride home from the cabin we stayed in for one week every summer–the whole way home, I cried. For five hours. Sometimes, according to my dad, I’d stop crying just south of Madison, leaving the final two hours blissfully quiet.

When I was nine years old, I fell in love with American history while watching North and South, a TV miniseries about the Civil War. I think it was a two-week series. I’d place my red tape recorder next to the TV speakers so I could “record” it. Guess what happened after the final episode? A whole lot of crying.

I’ve already cried today. Just a bit, but I haven’t even disassembled the crib yet. All I did was move it to make room for the new bed when it’s delivered soon. And I thought, “That crib will never be in that spot again. I’ll never hold my baby in my arms and rock her while I sing, before placing her down to sleep.”

It’s in my blood, I think, this tendency to start with, “Never again….” instead of the more optimistic, “What’s next?” It’s been with me as long as I can remember, a melancholy view of the passage of time. I can look on the bright side, and often do. But melancholy is sometimes my natural resting place.

It’s also the mood in which I feel most creative, when since I was little I’ve taken out my diary or notebook or computer and started writing. I learned early, accidentally, that putting words on a page lightens the weight. The act of writing is my cure, the melancholy in my heart released, bringing me to a point at which I know that of course I will still hold my baby and rock her to sleep. She might be heavier, her legs might dangle longer, but I still have more time.