― William Shakespeare
Happy Birthday to me!
I'm thirty-nine years old today. I know, as a woman, I am not supposed to admit my age. People are funny about getting older, women especially so. I guarantee that when I speak to my mother later today, she will say she has no idea how I can be thirty-nine when she still is. It's one of those things.
But honestly? I'm psyched to be thirty-nine. I'm even so looking forward to forty that I've already begun planning my big four-oh party. I just don't dread birthdays the way some do.
Sure, I know what some of you will say: give it a few years. And maybe you'd be right. Maybe forty-nine will sting. Or fifty-nine. Or eighty-two.
At the moment, all I feel is curiosity about those coming years. What will I be like at eighty-two? I know I'd like to be one of those badass, wonderfully-crusty old chicks who refuses to act her age. I picture myself at eighty-two as weathered and freckled, with shockingly short white hair, spending mornings SUP boarding or kayaking or swimming in salt water, maybe finally winning some 5Ks or triathlons just because I'm the only one left in my age category. I imagine looking back on a life of love and laughter, full of crazy stories of adventures lived and risks taken and opportunities seized, one after another and another. I love the idea of standing before the mirror and seeing my grandmothers, only cooler.
Last night, I was looking through some family photos, images from my parents' childhoods right up through this past summer. I was struck by how quickly a lifetime flies by, even for those who make it to an age where, when they pass, folks can say, "She had a full life."
My father died suddenly at age sixty. Sixty used to seem impossibly old to me, but now I understand just how young that is. I will never know what my father looked like as an old man, because he never got there. The wonderful laugh lines that crinkled the corners of his eyes and the gray at his temples were brand-new when he went out for a run and was felled by a tiny little blood clot.
Even more wrenchingly, last week a quiet town in Connecticut was blindsided by violence and left with twenty small children who will never grow up. No more birthdays. Never a fear of wrinkles or gray hair. Not even close.
I'm thirty-nine years old today.
What a blessing.