Stella Leventoyannis Harvey

Getting Older

No one longs to live more than someone growing old - Sophocles  

I have a birthday coming up in the next few days. Oh, thanks for your wishes. That’s very nice of you. I appreciate it. No, I’m not turning a new decade or anything special like that. Although aren’t all birthdays special in their own way? When my friends complain about getting older, I tell them they should be grateful. I mean, really, what’s the alternative?

And now, I need to take my own advice. I’ve been feeling somewhat anxious of late. Oh, yes I know it’s only a number. What’s the big deal? It’s not. The number doesn’t bother me at all. Okay, I can see that suspicious grin. Maybe it worries me a little.

 What seems to be troubling me further though is something more complicated. As I look around from this vantage point (soon to be 58), I realize that I have more friends who are suffering with illness. Other friends have died. I don’t remember experiencing these losses when I was in my twenties or thirties.

It started happening in my forties when a friend died of cancer. Her death took me aback for a long time, but not long enough to ponder this eventuality for me. In my fifties now, illness seems to have befallen many of my friends and friends of friends. I feel surrounded. And that forces me to look at my own life and that M word.

Facing my own mortality (I can’t believe I just typed those words) is something I’ve pretty much avoided. I’ve always kept and continue to keep my life overbooked. I immerse myself in everything that comes my way and find other projects just so I won’t stop for a single minute. I’ve been a life long runner? And that has had nothing to do with fitness. Even I can see that.

I have no choice now, but to stop and reflect on what lies ahead. How will I do all the things I still want to do? This sudden time crunch sends me into a paralysing tizzy. Where do I begin?  Will I have time?

And so I climb another bandwagon, write down all the things I still want to do. Looking at the list overwhelms me, makes me feel as though I’m sinking into quicksand.

Why is life so unfair? We stay fit, eat properly, do all the ‘right’ things, and we still have to face getting sick and disabled and dependent on others. How is this fair? I used to say I wouldn’t go without a fight. That’s easy to say when you’re young and not really thinking that illness or death are possibilities.

And there in that last line I’ve typed is the crux of my problem. I suppose I’ve never believed illness and death were in my cards. I know, what you’re thinking. She’s so delusional. And really I am. But tell me, have you ever given much thought to these twin specters?

Just as I’m feeling lost, unsure where to turn, and wondering what the point is to life, I read about why this 94 year old runs and I’m lifted.  Or distracted. Of course there’s a point.  This woman has found hers. I guess I have to find mine.

There’s hope. That’s where I’ll pin my faith; clinging to the belief I will have more time. And I better make the most of it. Stop complaining and get on with it. 

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