I woke this morning with a start, a kind of fearful cold water thrown on an unsettled heart. I’m 60 years old now. I probably have twenty useful years before me. This is fact, reality, sterile and unbiased. What can a person do with twenty more years of life? I can watch my granddaughters become women and my children enter their fifties. How long will it be before I lie in my bed like the mother I just visited, no bigger than a pipe cleaner, unable to stop my jaw from shaking, unable to make a fist with arthritic fingers, unable to keep the expression of pain and hopelessness from my face? How will it be to watch my friends die? To use all my energy to get out of bed in the morning trapped in a body that no longer serves me? Will my now distant children care enough to show up, or will I sit in my independence looking out at life unable to participate? And what of love and home? Will that be created in the next twenty years, or will I still be flying by the seat of my pants, the spiritual bird that can’t touch down?
I am in a time of fire. Everything is being burned away. They say, whoever they are, that a fire in the forest cleans the underbrush making space for new life. Don’t give up until they throw dirt on your face. Today I feel old, worn, dirty and tired.
I have moments in the day when I stop to weep from a deep and frightened place inside myself. Crying is something that has to happen now. I no longer question it. I just try to be gentle because I know I’m in the fire. I know the fire burns. I try not to thrash around and stir the flames. I put on a good face, breathe deep and wake with a cold and lonely fear in my heart.