On this anniversary of my birth, I determined I needed to acknowledge the occasion in some personally meaningful way. 47 has loomed heavily in my mind. This is odd because aging has never particularly bothered me, and this isn’t even a milestone birthday anyway. When my thoughts began to crystallize, I realized the fact that I am now just two years away from the age my father was when he passed very suddenly is hitting me. Hard. When my dad was my age, he had just two years left to experience all he would this side of heaven. I can’t fathom that. He didn’t take proper care of himself for far too many years, and it caught up with him. In the weeks before he died from a pulmonary embolism at age 49, photos that were taken capture the image of a man looking more like he was in his sixties or even early seventies. Twenty-two year old me had no idea just how much he did NOT look like what 49 typically looks like. Does it have a look? I don’t know really. I just know that now I’m 47 and inching awfully close.
This year marks a quarter of a century since I last had my dad in my life. Anyone who knows me knows that nothing has impacted my adult life more than the loss of my biggest cheerleader, my best friend, my dad. Some days the loss still feels so fresh, not at all like nearly 25 years have passed. In that time I’ve established a meaningful and rewarding (albeit difficult) teaching career, nurtured an almost 20 year marriage, and built a family and life for which I am unbelievably grateful. It has been a wonderful, painful, and beautiful journey. Basically, I’ve lived a whole lot of life in these years since he’s been gone. I have so many thoughts, reflections, and experiences buzzing through my head that are waiting to be spilled out in some forum. How? Where? I attempted this blogging thing once before only to abandon it quickly. Something draws me back and says, “Give it another go.”
So happy birthday to me, here is my blog! Maybe you will enjoy it, too? Maybe you will find some comfort, something that resonates, or something that makes you laugh. You might be annoyed, irritated, or confused by some things I am thinking about that I express here. I’m cool with that. Welcome to my brain. One blessing of these late forties for me has been the long-awaited peace and freedom from seeking the approval of seemingly anyone and everyone in my sphere. I’m a lot more selective about my people pleasing these days. I have found that performing for an audience of One provides the most calm for my soul. It would be a blessing if what I share here touches someone out there in the interwebs. But first and foremost, I am viewing this as my present to myself. My resolution for 2019 was to begin writing in earnest, and it simply did not happen. Never too late to try again. Perhaps this is a way to start.
On my last day of being 46, my daughter and I went to see a youth production of the musical Tuck Everlasting, based on the book by Natalie Babbitt. Both my kids (ages 16 and 13) are very involved in musical theater, and it has consumed much of our family life for the past 7 years. I am always most drawn to the shows that are adaptions of books I have loved. I had never seen this one before, though, and I haven’t read the book since I was a child. Talk about timing for seeing this particular show! I had no idea the emotional punch this would pack for me. The outstanding performances, music, choreography, and poignant story had me holding back tears (if not outright sobbing) throughout. Good, healing, therapeutic tears. The kind that my husband and kids don’t always understand, but that I must release simply as a requirement of being me. The themes of immortality, loss, and making time (and life!) count were so timely for me. As an elementary school teacher, this is the time of year when the day to day grind can feel most daunting. I am drained by the monotony of it all. The Tuck family’s struggle with their endless days, and Mae Tuck’s reminder that, “Life, even infinite, still must have life in it,” pierced my dull spirit. This whole turning 47 thing reminds me that my days certainly aren’t infinite, even if they can feel endless. I have to be intentional about putting LIFE into them.
So those are my marching orders for today, my birthday, on a Monday of all days (a God-wink reminding me He has a sense of humor). I hope you make your moments count today, too.
“Don’t be afraid of dying — be afraid of not truly being alive.” Tuck Everlasting