If you hold your hand out in front of you at arms length and look down over the top of it, it looks as though your fingers are all cut off at the knuckle. It's more effective with one eye closed. When it looks like your fingers are gone, it's much easier to imagine how you would get by without them; life would definitely be different, but you would adapt.
When I tried to imagine retiring and not having the stable life I have had for so long, there was no way to simulate the loss of the glue that held our family together since I was 24. And for my last moments at work, I imagined that certain things would be significant and meaningful...symbolic.
I thought the final time that I passed through the turnstile, that always seemed to shake violently closed behind me as I entered work each morning, would possibly bring a tear to my eye as it shook to a stop, this last time with me on the outside; but I'm not sure it even made a noise as I left. I got in my car, drove away and didn't look back. I thought of pulling over near the freeway for one last look at the mammoth building I had worked in, but I decided that it felt like an empty gesture, and I put on my turn signal and drove down into traffic.
The whole thing just ended, and the only meaningful moments were, surprisingly, when I logged off of my computer for the last time, windows chiming as the screen went dark, and after I went through the turnstile for the last time and realized that I couldn't go back into the secured area if I wanted to.
My life looks different than I imagined it would, and until this morning I didn't really understand...I am poor. People keep asking me how retirement is, and I keep saying I'm not really retired, because my life is going to get a lot tougher. The truth is, I am retired and now able to do exactly what I want to do...grow up.