I do not fear aging. I do not fear middle age – not the wrinkles, not the rickety onset of bodily changes in my knees or hips to come, not even the eventual menopause in the era beyond middle age. I’ll say it again and again: AGING IS NOT THE WORRY!
I fear the parts of aging that surround one singular word: loss.
LOSS, n, the fact or process of losing something or someone
Forget hair loss, pfft, whatever. Forget the usual aging loss of slight hearing. No, I am in a daily internal and silent worry about the era I am deep within and that I know will keep coming. Loss of our people. Loss of all the dogs I’ve sat next to at BBQs and on Sunday afternoons for a decade – both my own and my friends’. Loss on a pendulum of not ending just breaks in between.
Sure, by 40, we’ve all experienced a loss – or several. I experienced more great, nonstop loss in a singular year at age 19 than some experience before they reached 40. It’s not that loss hasn’t happened since; it’s that there have been reprieves to grieve, to heal, and opportunities to live nonlinear anguish pockets that might hit on a February Tuesday or an August Sunday. Moving ahead with a steady hand or getting out of the car for an event – while still hard – is achievable up through now.
Is future grief and future loss going to be an achievable journey? The trek ahead, and really already going on, is one of watching our elders fumble more and more. Watching our aunts and uncles, who previously had vibrant hair and a bouncing gait, navigate their hairstyles of ashen thinning grays and shuffling along with a cane to assist. The bittersweet blistering purgatory of living long and having the joys while simultaneously noting that the clock of Father Time is always ticking.
Aging is not the worry. Worrying about age would be a toiling of waste—an uncontrollable guarantee. I am determined to feel amid the real worries. Feel deep and feel all the hard. Feel the pangs of memories when the times do come. Feel the challenge of moving on without those destined to not be with us in the varying chapters ahead of us.
A standard midlife loss era is coming. Maybe not tomorrow. When the chapter ahead greets me to turn the pages, I hope each sentence leaves me with more than an emptiness. Because all of the people, and all of the dogs, and all of the cats have been far too filling to my soul to live in such a feeling of empty-handed fear.
Loss is coming. It is the worry, but I will compile the memories now until the welcome mat is needed for the unending mucky shoes that will trudge through the muddy waters that lay amid the clear creeks and pathways between.