I turned 48 years old last Sunday. I spent the first half of the day in bed under the covers before I had to stop crying and go enjoy the massage the Captain bought me. It's been a while since I was this depressed about my birthday. I really struggled with 39, so perhaps I'm more crushed by the impending milestones than the actual changing decades. It also seems I may need more time to adjust as I get older, so that doesn't bode well for my 57th or 66th celebrations.
The number isn't what freaks me out, although it's a challenge to utter it out loud. It has such a hard edge to it: forty-eight. There's no room for delusion in there, no soft consonants to lessen the blow, like forty-five. Forty-five is a sigh of acceptance, a shrug, faith in the future. Forty-eight brooks no such sentiment. Forty-eight knows time is running out. Forty-eight eyeballs your life, and in my case, finds it lacking.
So I spent the morning wrestling with forty-eight and the feeling that I am never going to accomplish my goals. My mother's death casts all of this in even greater relief, although she experienced what almost everyone would consider a complete life. She raised a family, had a career, travelled the world, loved her grandchildren. She was seventy-five when she died, which sounds old but is now less than thirty years away on my horizon. When I think how quickly the first thirty years of my life sped by in a rush of heat and noise and pain and laughter, the brevity of it makes my chest clench.
There are things I want to do, and many of them are time sensitive. I absolutely do not have enough years left to mold my boys into men. I talk, talk, talk, but I don't know how much is actually penetrating their brains through the obscuring fog of girls, sports, videos, girls, music, friends, girls, school, and girls. It's difficult to compete against the singular focus of the penis, and soon they'll leave me, unprepared.
I want to write and be published. I wish my mother could have experienced that with me. I am just starting to feel like I can write again, allowing myself that instead of thinking it's trivial. Now I have to find the words that have been smothered by exhaustion, strangled in my struggle to tamp down my grief.
I want to live in a wide, open space surrounded by grass and mountains.
I want the serenity to accept that I may never live in a wide, open space surrounded by grass and mountains.
I want to change the world.
And as I face the spectre of pulmonary fibrosis, the disease that killed my grandmother and my mother, I want more time.
I don't want to be forty-eight.