Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Catch It While You Can

How on Earth did Great Grandma make it to 98 without losing her mind? She died 16 years ago this August, and I still marvel at the wit and vigor she had right up to the end.

I've concluded that the hardest thing (for me, anyway) about getting older is not lost elasticity of the skin or a slowly declining metabolism. Those things truly suck, but they're not the worst. It's loss. Period. Lost relationships. Lost people. Memories that intensify with time and relationships that fade.

When we are young, we fully grasp the adventure and vastness of life experience laid out before us. As we age, we limit ourselves, defining where we go by where we've been. I try my best not to do this and to see things from the eyes of a child. Easier said than done.

Because some days I just plain miss people--the dead ones, the ones who moved away/got away/moved on/moved out/moved me. The ones I never really knew; the ones I knew too well; the ones I could have known. And so sometimes I linger too long looking back, instead of ahead. We all know you can't get anywhere that way.

I think of Great Grandma, who buried grandchildren, siblings, a husband, parents... toward the end, she spoke only of people who had been dead for years. Yet, she was happy. Maybe because she idealized those relationships now those people were gone? Maybe because she accepted everything for what it was? Or am I'm just idealizing her now that she's gone.

I know this: Every moment with every person is a gift. I'm grateful for all the moments I've had, and will have. And I do not want to limit myself. Life is still an adventure. It's vast. It's full. It's beautiful, sometimes overwhelmingly so.

Last night I got back on the sewing horse, putting together a few new projects that have been on my to do list for some time. The house was quiet, except for the fans, my sewing machine, and a few neighborhood dogs barking at moths. I was content, focused, creating. I went to bed late, alone. I don't remember Ian coming in from his shift at the bar. I don't remember him getting up for his day job at Yale. I do remember sharing the same pillow with him, however, for the few hours we slept side by side.


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