And when I turn 60 next year, I’ll be just ten years away from 70. Sev-en-ty.
Ok, so I can do math. Good for me. But why is that important? Think of it this way:
If a 30- or 40-something (or younger) dies, well, that is truly tragic, especially if they have young'uns. We think, “Who’ll look after their family?” or “They still had half (or more) of their life ahead of them; what a waste.”
And if a 50-something dies, we think “She was so young!” or “He had so much life ahead of him.” And indeed, they probably did - looking towards retiring, travelling, or doing nothing, and enjoying all the benefits that come with that life stage.
What do we think when a 70-something dies? Somehow it’s not unexpected. We might think “S/he lived a full life,” and acceptance seems to come easier. I mean, to live 70+ years is quite the accomplishment! It's reasonable to think about someone dying in their 70s.
And when an octogenarian dies, well, they are often lauded for their tenacity, and persistence in life that goes beyond expectation.
What I’m realizing is that I am getting to the point in my life that it will be generally accepted that I have experienced all I came to experience - said all the things, gone all the places, and accomplished all the goals. Death at this age is just part of life. It’s not unfair or senseless. It just is.
With this in mind, I realize that whatever it is I feel is unfinished or unsaid, I better get done!
But the truth is I may live to be 89 like my dad, or I may not make it to my next birthday. I can make all the plans, start all the things, work diligently towards my goals, and not get to accomplish them.
We were going to have summer camps for the grandkids, wondering if we’d be able to manage all of them in the same week, or if we’d have to plan a special week for each one, stretching it out over the whole summer for us.
It’s like we were in a race - we’d run far enough to not be able to see the starting line any more, long enough to have hit a stride, but still far enough from the finish line (so we thought) that it was moot.
But Rod’s finish line came before any of this. So what was the purpose of all our plans - why did we even make them? And why should I dream or make any plans for a future that I may not get?
But, at the same time, what if my finish line is still 30 years off? That’s a lot of years to do nothing but wait to cross a finish line that I can’t even see.
Therein lies the duality of life.
Perhaps the way to reconcile this quandary is to live within life’s duality.
To me that means that I will still dream and take all the steps to make those dreams happen, but I’ll hold those dreams loosely. Accomplishing them is not the point.
Instead, as I pursue those dreams, I’ll enjoy the sunshine or the rain, look for shapes in the clouds, and bask in the full moon’s bright light.
I’ll take time to notice who’s walking beside me, and enjoy their company.
I’ll do what I can to help them as they work towards their dreams, and accept their help as I move towards mine.
I’ll rejoice in their victories, and sit with them in their tragedies.
Writing about widow life, grief, and general random ramblings.
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