Here's Why

Getting old.

 

hospital roses

I got more than halfway through my 20’s before I looked up and realized that getting old doesn’t just “suck”. Getting old is absolutely terrifying.

Someone should have told me. We should be telling our children the truth.

Why is this at all surprising to me? Common sense, Heather. Grandmas and grandpas don’t just die in their sleep.

They die after falling down in their bedrooms at their son’s house and covering themselves in vomit before being found by their twelve-year old grandsons.

They die after emptying their bowels in the bed they share with a husband different from the one that raised their children.

They die after spending years in a wheelchair, nostrils plugged with oxygen, being force fed food they can no longer taste.

They die mouths agape in hospital beds, surrounded by machines and uncomfortable chairs.

They die under fluorescent lighting.

They die under sisters they haven’t seen in decades, bending over them and whispering it’s not too late to turn to Jesus.

That’s the way they die. That’s the way we die.

There’s no such thing as dying peacefully and painlessly in your sleep, taking one last full breath and passing gracefully. I’ve lost four grandparents in the last five years: tick, tick, tick, tick. They left with regrets and pain and muddled speech and cold hands, and they died with all the advice I wouldn’t need until later. Until now.

Growing old is terrifying, and not because at 31 I can see my skin start to slack and feel my back start to hurt. It’s not the invisible ticking clock or the earlier bedtimes, the lactose intolerance or the not wanting to stand during concerts. What’s terrifying is what will they do when I am gone? and what will I do when they are gone? and please let me go before he does. What’s terrifying is having to let them watch you pass just as ungracefully as everyone else.

I’ve spent a lot of time looking forward to being an old woman because I thought I’d have all of the answers.

But that’s a lie for another day.

Here's Why

Spit it out.

tree lips

I’m going to write more. I’m going to write in here, and in the notes app on my phone and in the old abandoned Word documents in the caverns of my files.

I am going to worry less about editing perfection and more about telling the truth.

This is an experiment of sorts.

I am going to write and I am going to exercise and I am going to eat enough and I am going to chase away the guilty teeth that gnaw my stomach lining when I do these things. I am going to touch things with my bare hands and fill my lungs up to the brim. And because I do these things, I will be happier and clearer and better able to give the way I want to.

That’s the plan.

I am going to write the good. My husband and my boys and my girls and my gingham curtains. The family and the garden and my professional things and my Bible study and my people. The silly and the delicious, the soaring and the snuggly, the warm and the soft.

I am going to write the bad, or the not-so-good. My insecurities and sadnesses and side eyes. The pressure and the guilt and the falling-shorts; the bugs and the sweat and the crying over spilt milk.

I’m going to write the ugly. I want to say “I’ll try” here, but I’m just going to do it. I’m going to write the lumps in my throat, like what happened when the doctors took the twins away while I was in the operating room. The scar tissue, like my divorce. The leaks on my soul, like what it sounded like to hear my sister die.

My life is absolutely perfect, and sometimes I cry myself to sleep.

Coming soon: Here’s Why.