Last week my physical therapist asked me how old I am. I told her I was turning 45 on Thursday and she responded, “Oh, I’m sorry.”
Her reaction stunned me. It shouldn’t have considering the general view of aging, especially for women, in this country. But it did. And I’ve thought about it since: What does it mean to be 45?
Into my 30’s, I subconsciously cast 45 off as old, when dreams have been long realized and everything from there was on a downslope. But as pages of the calendar seem to be flipping off in a windstorm of years, I’ve gained a new perspective.
Let’s not sugarcoat–aging sucks. I’ve never met anyone who wants wrinkles, aches, pains, inevitable loss, new knees, gray hair, or saggy skin. Not once. And yet, that’s where we are all headed. Until our spirits rise, we are destined to live inside an aging body.
But if we are willing to say yes to life, we must be willing to say yes to it all. And when I step into the light of grace, of what it means to be given 45 years of life on Earth, I realize I have needed every one of those years to get to where I am now, and there is not one year I would give back.
Forty-five to me means going to college and discovering how humungous the world is, breaking rules, boarding airplanes to lands unknown, walking barefoot on beaches and riding bikes through cities, wildflower meadows, and over canyons. It means being in classrooms and lecture halls, both as student and teacher, always learning and discovering. It means taking my time and following my curiosities, and it means getting lost, wandering, and finding my way back. It means breaking my heart and falling in love and making mistakes and saying I’m sorry and practicing bravery and working really hard and being really grateful. It means marrying my best friend and realizing it was worth the wait. It means growing children in my belly and watching them become who they are, spirits and journeys all their own. It means being the “fortune teller” at the school carnival and reading The Giving Tree before bed. It means letting Lucy destroy the kitchen to make “slime,” and watching Oliver disappear down the sidewalk on his bike, praying he arrives at Spencer’s house safely.
It means all of the experiences I’ve had and all of the people who’ve crossed my path and taught me about love and life.
I am 45 and there is no apology necessary. Instead, I want to tilt my head back and sing to the sky, thank you, thank you, thank you. Thank you, God, for all of it.