I was excited to turn 30 and rightly so. Those turned out to be some of the best years of my life. As I reflect it’s clear to me they were the teenage years I never had. As a teen mom and wife there were no keg parties, concerts and definitely none of those carefree hanging-out with my friends kinds of days or nights. My 30’s were so much fun, I never gave a thought to turning 40. I did have a few twinges as 50 approached. I promised myself it would be the decade of me making every effort to complete everything I ever dreamed of accomplishing.
In nine-months I’ll be 60. Those twinges I felt as the 50’s approached are now deafening drum beats.
Throughout the last three-decades I’ve watched my kids grow into impressive adults and the most amazing parents to the 13-grandchildren they’ve blessed me with. I survived not one, but two-abusive relationships, escaping the second with the clothes on my back. I got the job I always thought I wanted and the education I was told it was too late to earn. My life was forever changed when my precious younger brother was murdered in a random road-rage attack. My grandparents were still living at that time so losing David was my first experience with grief.
Never in my wildest thoughts did I imagine meeting my soulmate and actually marrying him in the beach wedding of my dreams. He was the catalyst to my first book being published and to the writing career I thought was simply fantasy. It’s so cliché, but how did I get here so fast? Trying to keep the voices in my head that keep telling me it’s all downhill from here to a low roar is exhausting.
Do you ever think of how many days you have left, I mean actually doing the math? I wish I hadn’t gone so far as the math. If I live another 30 years that equals 1,040 Saturdays. Chances are I have less than three decades, and as I’ve learned in the most heartbreaking of ways, it could only be days.
Moments of panic have me wanting to experience everything I haven’t and everything again that I loved the first time around. I want to do it all right this minute before I lose my mind or the use of my body or both.
Once sanity slowly seeps in I realize I need to slow down and actually feel joy as I experience all of those everything’s. Is that sanity or just another one of those mindless things we tell ourselves but never actually do?
I find myself daydreaming about that morning my infant daughter started crawling, and I cried because I wasn’t ready for her to grow up. That time my crawling son stood for the first time against an open door that closed with his tiny hand caught in the hinge. Coming home late at night after closing the restaurant and waking my youngest girl to breast feed her one more time because I felt so guilty leaving her. As she grew I could count on her sitting on the bottom step waiting for me at night, a habit that continued into her teen years.
It’s been 10 years since I stood in the sand and married my best friend at sunset. I close my eyes and my heart beats fast with excitement the way it did on that magical day.
As chaotic and painful as life can be in those times when we don’t think we can get through another minute, or to ever bury another loved one, too soon we stop and realize we’ve been blessed with a single moment in which everyone we love and care about is safe, healthy and happy. It’s those fleeting moments I intend to seek out and cherish for my next 30 years.