Not sure why, but lately I keep feeling like my time on this Earth is limited. Okay, so maybe it’s just an irrational fear. Or maybe it’s talk of the Mayan calendar (and the world) coming to an end. Or global warming fears. Maybe it’s hormonal changes playing tricks on my brain. Or that I messed up my back this week and have a throbbing sciatic nerve. It might have more to do with the fact that I’ve neared the age when my father died.
When I turned 46, the age at which my mother died, I never experienced any of these feelings. Perhaps that’s because I was just a year into a second marriage and I was in the peak of my career in publishing. Everything was going along just fine. But, oh man, everything came to a screeching halt the following year. I lost my job. The economy tanked and the housing market collapsed. We had to tighten our budget immediately. We cancelled trips. We downsized Christmas. And my youngest daughter took her first steps onto The Wayward Path. I slammed hard and deep into a dark depression and the next three years became my “winter of discernment.” Yes, it was ugly.
Slowly things have improved. I don’t have such dark days anymore, and the “cloudy” days I do experience don’t come with the same frequency as they once did. I have a job, ever so grateful for it even though I’m frightfully underemployed. I can’t say feelings of overwhelming depression are making me feel my time is running out. And I am not suicidal!
One would think that I would have started feeling this way a year ago when I celebrated the big 5-0 milestone. Yet it’s only in the last few months that I’ve been pondering this whole thing, when I started noticing more aches and pains. Yes, I’m carrying more weight than I ever have in my life. (And I’m attempting to do something about that!) And I just experienced a six-month period of very high stress with planning one daughter’s wedding while trying to keep another daughter from tumbling over the cliff. I can’t help but wonder if this is the precursor to turning fifty-two next summer. My father died at fifty-two. But then I think, that’s ridiculous!
About two months ago, the week before my daughter’s (Rose) wedding, my oldest daughter (Kate) came to stay with us and help me with all the preparations. It was a wonderful gift to spend so much time with Kate and my granddaughter. We did a lot of shopping and each time we returned home Kate offered to carry in all the bags. At first I thought it was very kind and thoughtful of her, but then one time I noticed the load she was carrying. On one shoulder was a purse and a diaper bag and on that hip was her daughter. But Kate’s other hand was free, so she grabbed as many of the heavier bags (with handles) as she could. I was left to carry one very light bag in each hand. I felt ridiculous. Did she think I am growing old and can no longer carry heavy bags? Was she worried I’d have a stroke or that I’d slip and fall and hurt myself? Well, okay, lately I have those concerns too.
And then there’s those moments when I can’t remember a person’s name, or I struggle to find the specific word I wanted to say. Those moments absolutely terrorize me because my bloodline is so thick with Alzheimer’s disease. Just seeing that word can make all my irrational fears come alive.
The other day I watched an interview with a famous movie actor and he talked about how at 54 he feels his time is running out. He said his bucket list hasn’t grown any, but he has an overwhelming feeling of needing to get some things accomplished quickly. So maybe I’m just “normal” and these are midlife crisis kinds of thoughts.