I Have Lived Long Enough to Have Lived Long Enough

I guess anyone could say this. Every life is a full life, with a beginning, a middle, and an end. Every single one. So no matter the length of a life, that’s enough, and it’s ok – it has to be. But it has dawned on me recently, that should I drop dead tomorrow, I wouldn’t exactly be dying “young”. 

I know – it’s all relative. Do I think that if I died at 51, in the midst of all that I’m doing and creating and building that I’d be completely okay with that? No. Of course not. I sure would like many more days and years to figure out what I’m going to do when I grow up, see my kids grow up a bit more and start out on their own happy lives, and savor the joys of life with my husband at a more relaxed pace.

However, no matter what age I feel, it is not terribly uncommon to hear of people dying in their 50s. In fact, not so long ago – reaching 50 was somewhat unusual, and in some cultures, it might have been thought that you had outlived your usefulness. Biologically speaking, I could be considered beyond my use as well. I have contributed to my clan by birthing two healthy male children, and now my child rearing years are done. Well, I’d like to think I’m still useful in the raising of these young guys of mine, but if I were gone, they would surely find their way, somehow. At any rate, this girl ain’t having any more babies, that’s for sure.

Thankfully, people today tend to live longer, healthier lives in general – compared to recent past generations. Plenty of people continue to live and thrive well into their 50s and beyond. People even into their 80s and 90s are still often working, still contributing, and still a very active part of their community. So, as long as I stay out of the sites of the Grim, I can reasonably count on seeing, doing and completing many more projects. Fingers crossed.

I have a very close friend whose mother died when we were in college. I remember it like it was yesterday, and when I reflect on my impressions of Kay, she was a much older woman, in my eyes. Although her life was cruelly and unfairly cut short by cancer – at the time, it didn’t strike me as completely out of the realm of possibility that she could be of a reasonable dying age. She was 52. 

Yikes. Now that’s just CRAZY. Being very near 52 myself, I see it all very differently now. I am Kay. My kids are a bit younger than hers were when she got sick and taken from them, but still, at this point, we would have spent just about the same amount of time on this planet. How did she feel about her diagnosis? When she realized she wasn’t going to make it, did she think to herself – I’m such a young woman! I have so much more to accomplish! I’ve done a lot – but I have SO much more to do??? Because I sure as hell would think these thoughts, times a million. The thought of not being here tomorrow is literally inconceivable for me. I couldn’t imagine at the time that a woman of her age would have these thoughts, how could I? But now I’m Kay. I’m just a 20 year old me, 30 some years later. She probably was too.

Regarding her passing through this lens has really been a wake up for me. Peering into the future trajectory of my life looks like a limitless sea of alwaysness to me. I have continued to feel like a kid, looking ahead, without a real sense of urgency or deadline, because I have so much time ahead of me. But do I? No one knows, of course. I am starting to feel it in my bones that time is the truest luxury we have. The days and moments we have, or are looking forward to and counting on, are not promised to us. 

A funny feeling. I used to hear my dad talk like this. Yeah, yeah. I know. Every day is a gift. But you know when you’ve heard something forever, and then one day – you get it. You feel it in your gut. The ah-ha moment happens, and you see it clearly, you have a new knowing of it. What to do with it? It can be jarring – sobering. I could slip to the dark side of it, and live in fear or anxiety. 

But no. Instead of living in panic, I try to let it all wash over me, and be comforted that I am still here. I’m firmly planted on this earth, zooming through space, flying around the sun, again and again. Today, amidst the random chaos, global ugliness and my completely unknown future, I get to choose how to spend my time, and how I interpret what happens to me. I can choose to embrace the opportunity to live more fully, to stop wasting my time and energy by holding onto that which does not serve me. 

I can be thankful for another day to love those around me, and put to good use all the gifts I have, and have been given. I can choose to live.

And at the end of it all? What will have been the point? That, I think, is another blog post. But as I take these days less and less for granted, even that becomes more clear. 

Love every day,


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