Today is my 50th birthday.
Last night I tried staying up past midnight to watch my 40’s disappear, as if being awake for the event would make it more believable. But I fell asleep and when I awoke a whole new decade of my life had begun. 50. Half way, or maybe more than half. Do I really want to live to see 100?
My daughter has been sick with pneumonia and had to be hospitalized. Rather than getting a massage and a manicure as I’d planned this past week, I spent several days by her hospital bed. Nothing mattered to me outside that room. On Tuesday I forced myself to go to work because I had a deadline, but I left early and rushed back to sit with her in that little room. When she was well enough to go home, I began round the clock home care, which included waking up at 3 AM to administer a dose of antibiotics. I didn’t care about sleep; I just wanted my daughter well again.
And then came my birthday.
I hadn’t wanted a party; going to the March on Washington was my party. But sleep was necessary. So on this first night of my 50’s, I am in a hotel room just a mile from my house (just in case…) so I can sleep and write and sleep some more. I used to be able to manage on 4 hours of sleep a night for months. Now, I can’t get through a day on less than 6. I must be 50.
My 40’s kicked my butt! I feel beat up and worn out and then left in the sun too long. I feel year after year of stress in my bones. Will my 50’s be more of the same?
The odd thing is I feel excited about a new decade. It feels like a new book in a series. The old book is done and now I start a new adventure. I’ve never been this age before. And I feel such freedom and relief, because I don’t care so much what other’s think. I’m not worried about making people happy or wondering if I’m doing something wrong. Other people’s opinions matter less than ever, which makes me feel strong. I know what is right for me. I still struggle and have a lot to learn to be myself, but at least I finally know who that person is.
Plus, it’s raining on my birthday. It hasn’t rained on my birthday in many years. When I was a child it rained every year and then sometime in my 20’s I realized my birthday wasn’t in Winter anymore. But today, it is cold and gray and damp, just the way I like it.
Rain is a good sign, and my daughter is getting stronger. Now to sleep and dream and regain some strength. It’s a whole new decade to explore.