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.

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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.

 

Letters to My Kids, Uncategorized

Wiggle wiggle wiggle wiggle — STOP.

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Dear Jack,

You really, really loved the cauliflower at dinner tonight. You gave it a “Iz good” and a thumbs up — this is your official stamp of approval.

You wear a Paw Patrol hat every (EVERY) day, usually backwards.

You are two and two months.

This week, you decided to be terrified of the vacuum. You scream and cry unless I will hold you while  I vacuum. So I do. You are heavy; this is difficult.

You have lots of new words, every day.

You run into things all day, every day.

We keep working hard on changing that.

You say “OH YEAH” and clap when we go through Dutch Bros, because you know you’re in for chocolate milk with whip cream on the straw.

You just started giving me free kisses. I waited a real long time for this, kid. Also, when you see Dad give me a smooch, you tell us, “I love you” in order to join in.

You are anything but the easy way. You are loud. You are fall-asleep-behind-your-bedroom-door.

You’re as tall as a four-year old.

You love the small shovel you stole from Dad. You drag it behind you from one end of the yard to the other. And you tell it “nigh-nigh” before bed — every day.

Your favorite color is red. (Of course it is.) You will start fights over wearing a red shirt, drinking out of a red cup. You get mean over red.

You love holding hands across the table when we say dinner prayers and saying Ay-men afterwards. But sometimes, you bend down to lick the food on your plate while we’re praying.

You love Miles and JoJo and Sean and all of your cousins. You can do a somersault on your own. You are enthusiastic over everything, whether it’s EW BOOGERS or MMM DEE-LISHUSH or STEEEENKY POOP GROSH DEES-‘GUSTING. You are big round eyes and crinkled nose and crookedy grin.

We have watched way too many YouTube videos of garbage trucks.

You are the keeper of the yard; no birds will land in the grass on your watch from behind the screen door.

You are belly laughs and ugly whines, crocodile tears and backseat dance parties. Wiggle-wiggle-wiggle-wiggle-STOP.

You make my heart beat faster, and not always because I’m chasing you.

I love you, Jack Michael.

Always.

Mom