April 18, 2011
It’s the eve of my birthday. The dreaded big 4-9. I realize that it is supposed to be the terrible “big 5-0” that I am to dread, but I’m a firm proponent of pre-grieving. So I’ve started a year early. Perhaps by this time next year, I will be able to embrace the passage of time with not only peaceful acquiescence but actual gratitude. But don’t hold your breath on that.
To say that I don’t handle growing old gracefully is an understatement. My husband, John, has proudly sported his slightly silver-streaked hair for the last decade while I’ve spent the large part of twenty-plus years holed up in my bathroom with a bottle of the best hair color ten bucks can buy. After plucking my first gray hair while pregnant with my firstborn, it was my only recourse. (I’ve got that white strand taped in John Michael’s baby book to prove my premature aging started with him!)
My husband, John, on the other hand, sails through his December birthdays as though they barely register. He doesn’t mind receiving AARP propaganda in the mail and he’s downright eager to order legally off the senior’s menu. He tells me things like, “we’re not getting older, honey, we’re getting better.” All of which makes me want to slap him. Because I am not old and how dare he enjoy the very thing I’m working so hard to avoid.
Which brings us to today and my sudden realization that I can no longer sidestep, deny or ignore the fact that tomorrow – April 19th, 2011 – will mark two score and nine years off the timeline of my life. All I have left is what I have left. It’s the beginning of the end – though I suppose it has been just that since the moment I took my first breath.
Part of me wants to cry, “Someone help me find it! I’ve misplaced my youth.” But then I realize, I haven’t. I haven’t misplaced my youth. I know exactly where it is. Or where it was when I first lost it.
I was sixteen years of age when I firmly placed my life in the hands of God and surrendered myself to do whatever He would have me do. Though God chose not to completely follow the script I thoughtfully provided at the time, I can tell you with full assurance, my youth – and my trust – was not misplaced. God has been more than faithful to me.
So, here at forty-eight years, three-hundred-sixty-four days, eleven hours and twelve minutes closer to age forty-nine, I’m going to have to leave what was (the “20/30/40-something” years) where they belong – in His hands. And I’m going to have to surrender the all-too-often frustration of what is and the sometime fear of what will be along with it. Because I don’t want to miss the beauty of this moment, this time and this place.
Most of all, I don’t want to miss the gift wrapped in middle age because I was too busy trying to avoid it.