I'm 50.25 years old now, going on 50.33, and that "Reflections on 50" post has been hanging over my head for over 3 months.
Believe me, I started it. I started it and started it and started it, and each time it meandered off down rivers and branched off into various ancillaries and I ended up befuddled by my own writing, trying to figure out what my point was. It happens, I suppose, when we are 50
When I was 28, my best friend confided in me that each of her friends served a different role in her life. She had a party-girl friend, and a soul-searching friend, and a no-nonsense friend.
I was that third friend. Unwavering. Right and wrong. Black and white. I was newly divorced, and was going to do a damned good job of raising my son.
I had a decent job. I freelanced when I needed extra money. I owned my own house, mowed my own yard, changed my own oil. I didn't ask your opinion because there wasn't much I wasn't clear on. Life, as difficult as it could be, was a cakewalk.
I reflect on that now, at the age of 50, and I wonder at how little I am like my 28-year-old self. While I still have my shit together—thank you very much—I am shocked—SHOCKED—to admit that I am much more anxious and unsure now, than I was then.
"Anxious." "Unsure." I want to deny those words; they embarrass me. I am a confident, take-charge woman, dammit!
It still remains that what I feel, in comparison to "28-year-old Lori," is that Life is fragile.
Since I was was 28? I married again, and to my utter surprise, divorced again. I lost my father. I cared for my mother, with Alzheimer's, while my sister lost her battle to ovarian cancer. Shortly after, our Grandmother passed away. In the midst of it all, my son deployed to Iraq, twice.
'Scuze me very much, but these events unnerved me just a tad.
Still, nervous as I may be, sometimes, at 50, I am also often so thankful that I am buckled.
My 40s found me dating a childhood friend, that at one point I gave the option to cut-and-run: I wasn't going to soon bring a lot of rainbows and teddy bears to the table. I'm still amazed that Clint's answer was "I know what Lori Stewart has going on."
You can only imagine what hearing my son's laughter does to me. After fearing for his life for a combined 28 months? I hear it. Whether he's on the phone, or in my kitchen, or around a picnic table, I hear it, because it could have turned out so differently, and it did, for so many other mothers.
I have a great job.
After losing one I worked in for 24 years, I have a great job. That I love what I do would be enough. But throw in health insurance after borrowing money to pay for my own, while I schlepped through a few temp jobs to stay afloat? Backflips, baby! When at 28, I would have haughtily thought "of course I have a job and health insurance! I wouldn't accept anything less!" Hmph!
Clean mammograms and clear pap smears are worthy of fireworks. I recently had a girl's night in which one of my BFFs would or would-not be in attendance based on biopsy results. She was there, and we got so drinky on Duck Farts* that we had to review the photos the next day to see if we had any fun or not. It certainly looks like we did.
While I wouldn't have casted my vote for every event that's brought me here, I can recognize how I've grown. I love deeper, I laugh harder, I rejoice more readily, I hang on tighter, and I take less for granted than I did, at 28.
And this post, once again, has gone completely off track. It was going to be whimsical, and have a photo of a child's handwriting.
But that's ok.
Because I'm 50.
*Duck Fart Recipe
1 shot whiskey
1 shot kahlua
1 shot Bailey's Irish Cream
1 Designated Driver