Today I am celebrating 70 years of living. It is my birthday – and I am having trouble getting my mind around being alive for 70 years. Maybe it is because I don’t have enough fingers and toes to count that high. Maybe it is because getting old is so very complex. In any case I have found that I am now attracted to roses in the fullness of their maturity whereas the me of my early years preferred buds with their full potential waiting to unfurl. I am feeling giddy-excited about arriving at what I consider a mature old age. Wow!
JB and I talk about death a lot – we are trying to figure out how to prepare for a life without each other. We know it will be painful and I am hoping he dies first because I can’t fathom leaving him behind to mourn. I worry about whether he could take care of himself although I also tease him that there will be a line of widows forming at our door bringing him suppers and pies.
Within those 70 years it is not surprising that I have watched as people I love lost the flush of full bloom and their pedals withered until death stilled their bodies. Dying frightens me, because I don’t know if I can handle the loss of control that comes from life-sucking disease. But I don’t fear death, in fact I look forward to it as another exciting journey. My faith helps me with that.
But today I’m not thinking about death as much as I’m thinking about life. Oh, the grace and beauty that comes with remembering a life fully lived. JB and I were talking about how fortunate we are to have time together and the resources we need. We believe we have just enough of everything. Our joy is increased by knowing we will loose it all as we age and die. I am expecting that the loss will be okay as long as we completely and thoroughly enjoy our todays.
I feel like I am on a cusp. Life is changing for me in a way that is neither all good or all bad. Just like the life I have lived. I have the aches and pains of a body that is wearing out. My friends and I laugh about it, because we are all in the same boat. We marvel at how our minds sometimes forget that our bodies can’t do what they did in our youth. When I think about what I use to be able to do, sometimes I am sad about the loss and sometimes I smile. Life is like that. The good news is that I now have the freedom to rest when I need to rest, and can use my age as an excuse not to do it at all if the work becomes too taxing.
Life at 70 feels rich and full. Colors are deeper, smells are sweeter, touch is more comforting. The great mysteries of life inspire more awe, and I revel in the simple pleasures of the scent of rain and snow, the warmth of the sun upon my face, the crunch of leaves beneath my feet, and the breeze blowing through my hair. I know who I am because of where I have been. I know I can face my future with confidence and let the crusty, feisty character within me emerge. Seventy is my ticket to being all that I am.