I’ve been thinking about endings lately, what with it being Easter and all. If all of life is a story, than maybe endings in life aren’t so different than the ending of a good story. We all are facing our end–just some of us live with it closer before us than others. Often we choose to live as if death is not waiting, but maybe we lose something when we do that. My mother, in her final year, told me that knowing she only had limited time left meant she was free to dispense with all the “chaff” in life. No hanging on to anger, regret, guilt or shame. The specter of death helped clarify life; it helped her see what was important in life.
In stories, good endings tie up all the loose plot threads. I suppose this is true in life as well. They call it “getting your affairs in order.” Maybe it’s mending broken relationships, saying goodbyes, or checking things off your bucket list. My mom bought a present for my nephew’s birthday that would be coming up. My friend made sure to knit a christmas stocking for the soon to be expected baby. Those important things in life. Those loose threads.
But what I think makes for a good ending in both stories and lives, is the promise of a new
beginning. That is the Easter story in a nutshell. An
ending that promises a new beginning for all. In a good story, the main character grows or changes in some way. Maybe it is recognizing the error of his/her ways. Maybe it is coming to realize what is important in life (like my mom said). In this way, the end also gives the promise of a new beginning. A better life.
I just finished Code Name Verity, a fabulous historical fiction book, the ending of which, although it did not please me, was nonetheless a fitting ending for a great story. It was fitting because it flowed naturally from what came
Most people like the “happy ever after” endings. Whether you end happy or sad, I would argue for leaving the reader with at least the hope of a new beginning. Even something as bleak as The Road by Cormac McCarthy gives the reader hope at the end.
So whether you look at the story of your life or the story you are writing, consider the ending. Does it tie up loose threads? Does it offer the promise of a new beginning? Does it offer hope.
Blessings on your writing in this Easter season.