Earlier this month I turned 55.
Five years ago, when I reached the half-century mark, I’m embarrassed to admit that I ranted and raved, pouted and protested, and seethed and sulked. Fifty felt old and I didn’t want to get old.
Now, I look back on that and think, how stupid was I?
As readers of my blog know, my mother died on June 13, giving me a painful reminder just how precious and fleeting life can be. And now my step-mother-in-law, Cheryl, who is only 60 and one of the bravest women I know, lost her battle with ovarian cancer. She died last night.
When the cancer was discovered, Cheryl was ready to tackle the challenge with gusto. “Just tell me what to do and we’ll do it,” she courageously stated as a matter-of-fact. And she did. However, after surgery, chemo, and then finally an experimental drug that just about killed her, the aggressive cancer kept spreading and nothing stopped it. Last week, Cheryl decided to stop all treatments and come home to die. Doctors supported that choice and Cheryl told her family that the decision to die gave her peace.
My father-in-law lost his first wife to cancer when she was only 37. It breaks my heart to see him go through this again. And I have to confess, at a time when I am beginning to heal from my own mother’s death, watching my husband’s family go through this excruciating process has brought all those agonizing memories flooding back.
So I write this blog with a gaping wound in my heart. I weep for my Mom, my mother-in-law who never saw her 40s, and for Cheryl who fought courageously to the end. I also write this blog as a reminder to myself and all of you.
Like the popular quote from an unknown source says: “Do not regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many.” Those words are seen everywhere and have become a cliche, but it’s true. Take those words into your heart and deep inside your soul.
Forget the wrinkles. Forget the aching muscles. Forget the fuzzy memory. Forget that you are getting older and you want to rebel against it.
Aging is a gift and a blessing.
If you are lucky enough to get old, the story of your life becomes more meaningful. Your life evolves into a one-of-a-kind, unique journey filled with wisdom and a renewed sense of purpose. You experience the gratitude that comes with every passing day that will enhance your life.
As Frank Lloyd Wright said, “The longer I live the more beautiful life becomes.” That why we all need to embrace and celebrate every day we are alive, giving God thanks for the privilege.
I’ll never complain about a birthday again.