So this year… already this year is trying me. Pushing hard. Even though I’m in a good place professionally… personally it’s already been a bit of a struggle. We lost two people yesterday… one who is a dear friend who lost his too-short battle with Thyroid cancer and the other is my first cousin Eli who passed from complications due to gastric bypass surgery.
The idea that you can lose your life while trying to live longer is more than my mind can handle today… frankly. And the idea that you can fight as hard as you have the ability to do so and even the best of medical science is imperfect and you can still lose your fight… that’s another thing I’m also struggling with today. But both of those things are fodder for another day. Today… today I’m dealing with one of the worst parts of growing older… ending up alone.
I actually wrote this post in my head on Saturday when I was out running errands… as we knew our friend was losing his battle with the big C. Truly had no idea that my cousin was in the process of dying. What a weekend?! #amIright?
(Cancer… BTW… is a twat waffle… of the highest order… and I don’t wish it on the worst enemy I might ever have in my life. But again… I digress.)
(Also, because sometimes we turn into variations on the olde European peasants that we are descended from, imagine the humor of us doing people inventory to try to determine who the 3d death will be… because you know they always travel in threes. Yeah… Sunday night was a veritable party up in here!)
Anyway, given that this year I will turn 59, and this year (like last year, and it’s sibling the year before) I’m dealing with the multitude of things that go along with being nearly 60 years old, growing older is something that is pretty much in my head a lot these days. I’m not handling it well at all honestly… even if I’m being relatively quiet about it most of the time. And yes, given how I opened this post, I’m very well aware that I’m still enjoying the benefit of being alive and growing older… and that’s a damned gift that at least two more people in my life will not get. However, the fact that both are gone, in a relative instant, and we’re left behind without them is the point of this post. (See! I told you there was a point to this… I know you were starting to doubt that… told’ja so!)
I think that being left behind is probably the worst part of growing old. You lose everyone as you move forward. One at a time. They leave you here to remember them, to cry for them, and to cry for yourself because you end up alone if you’re lucky enough (or unlucky enough, depending on how you see it) to live a long life. I guess that’s why I’m glad that my circle is varied in age groups… at least I have a marginal chance of keeping one or two of them with me as I move forward into my senior years. Maybe? Not sure… I tend to know people who seem to have a deathwish at times… so put down the damned cigarettes Caren, Charlie & Alex… NOW!
Anyway… I remember my Mom’s Sister, Shash Anne, saying something along these lines to me before she left to join that incredible party upstairs in 2021. She said that the hardest part is being left behind… and having no one left to talk to who remembered the many things she still treasured in her memories. The silence… the spaces… the shapes you still see that are empty to everyone else around you. She still saw them… but everyone else in those spaces was gone.
Unimaginable. Or it used to be. Until now… until it starts sinking in that those days are rapidly approaching. That I will be there in not so many years… if I’m lucky (unlucky) enough to be left behind. Turning 60 next year. Who saw that shit coming? Who knew I’d manage to grow this old and still not grow up? Outliving a husband, surviving a marriage that should have been a good friendship, seeing a child grow into an amazing, funny, brilliant son, enjoying a sister that I find daily I would be lost without, and finding my erstwhile soulmate who is likely the most aggravating, annoying, and yet loving and caring man I could imagine at a point in my life when I figured that ship had sailed without me on it. These are the things I am carrying… these are the things I cannot imagine living without. And yet, there are no guarantees.
So today’s lesson? Live. Live loudly. Live hard. Wear your life out. Don’t hesitate. Just live. And if you’re lucky (unlucky) enough to outlive all of your circle, hold onto your life and tell everyone around you how there was once a place called your life and you’re still living it. Build a new circle and tell them about the old one… then have them help you keep those flames alive. Create rituals and reminders, build them into your routines, and don’t ever forget unless you don’t get a choice on that one. Live your life as loudly and as long as you can. Say I love you every time you get the chance. And don’t ever fully grow up.
Turning 60… sure beats the alternative… but damn… I’m pretty sure nobody ever pictured it like this.