Today I am 40 years, 7 months and 2 weeks old. At some point in time during this day I will surpass the age my mother was when she died. She had breast cancer while carrying me and died when I was six months old. She left behind, my Dad, my exactly 15.5 years older than me ( yep, she died right around his 16th birthday) brother and me. My dad was older, as in, is this your grand-daughter older. He went on to have his last kid at age 48, but this isn’t a story about my family.
When I had my daughter I started thinking about Mom more. Dad died while I was pregnant and I had this difficult infant to stay up many nights with. I would lie or sit there, nursing her and smelling her sweet, momentarily quiet head and wonder what my Mom was thinking all those years ago. I thought about all the hopes and dreams I have for MiniMe and prayed I would live past her 6th month. There is absolutely nothing wrong with my health, but I think I’ve been waiting for the other shoe to drop on my death as soon as I comprehended what, your Mom died at age 40, meant. My whole life, death, has been my darkest emotional trigger. It took years and years before I wasn’t freaking out that The Husband was dead on the road somewhere when he was more than 15-20 minutes late and hadn’t called. It started as mild worry and would creep toward borderline panic attack. If I love you then you leaving me is heartbreaking; leaving me via death, biggest fear ever. Of course I lived just fine past MiniMe’s 6th month. A few years ago I started creeping closer to 40. I can’t remember exactly how long it had been in the back of my mind, but I can tell you as late as summer of 2010 ago I STILL had the irrational fear that I was going to somehow magically die young (soon) like my Mother did. That was the summer I took the plunge and looked up the death date, did the math and landed on today. I remember thinking how far away it seemed at the time. This was probably June or July and at that time just getting through one week and on to the next seemed often insurmountable on all fronts. But the weeks were not insurmountable, they did pass right by, one after the other until it was almost time.
As the months passed it became very clear to the crazy bitch inside of me, since nothing is wrong with me, that I had a high probability of living past my Mom’s age. I have always lived in a bit of little girl dread of the day. It has affected me in every way imaginable, it has shaped me, given me the foundation with which I built myself upon. This day, has always been at the core of my being, and the closer I got to it, the closer I got to me.
Yes, I can tell you sitting at 40, that it absolutely IS too young to die. I can tell you that I don’t feel old, or that it is ” all downhill from here” . I do feel like this may be the pinnacle of my life so far, surely I won’t be wasting it by heading back to where I came. I have to tell you, in all honesty that 40 feels pretty damn good. I’m not a little girl anymore. I’m a grown woman, a woman who recognizes and loves the crazy parts of the little girl inside of me for who she is. Finally, after 40 years of being, I learned how to just BE, and accept my inner private self as is. If I land on something I can’t accept, I either need to seek to change it or find a way to accept it. I suppose there are pieces inside all of us somewhere on that journey. I was just cursed/blessed to reach my mid-life crisis and stumble, sometimes badly, through it. Looking back I know that I had to take that journey, in exactly that same way, fuck-ups and all, to land right here where I am in this moment. I am a woman who has learned that we are ALL fucked up in our own beautiful flawed ways. A woman who has learned that all Mothers/partners/friends make bad decisions. It’s not what kind of mistakes you make; what matters is how you handle yourself when you choose to, or not to, own them.
As the calendar ticked down to the final week, and some other key events took place in my life, I started to notice a shift in my thinking. I am going to be living way past 40 years, 7 months and 2 weeks. What am I going to do with it? What should I do with myself? I am being given time my Mother never had. I am being afforded the opportunity to shed the shell of the hold her death has had on me, and step out into a whole new period of my life. A whole new period where I finally love myself and have the hind sight and wisdom that a disaster-ed couple of years of almost divorce, reconciliation, and forgiving yourself and the boy who ripped out your heart can give you. I can’t really explain how this feels except to say it is freeing, and exhilarating, kind of scary and definitely bad ass. As for what I’ll do with it… It’s quite full of dreams, plans and goals.
Welcome to the rest of my life, you are more than welcome to bring your Big Girl or Big Boy Panties (can’t find them? I’ll help you ) and join me. It should continue to be an amazing adventure, complete with beautiful disasters. I promise to buckle in, breathe, and enjoy the ride while doing my best to consciously ,fearlessly be myself.