I will be 24 in nine days.
I know how young that is but at the same time I can’t help but feel old. I’ve put a lot of miles on myself within the last 12 years. This last year I swear aged me at least 10 years.
I had an interesting conversation about death the other night. We were talking about do not resuscitate orders and how it is so hard for people to let go of their loved ones. I started to say how I would just want to let the person go, that I would rather see their suffering end than cling to the partial life they had been left with. Rich interrupted me and said he and I can’t be part of a conversation like that because we experience loss so young in life that we see things differently. I think he’s right. It’s no secret that I don’t deal with death very well, that’s not to say I fear death or I cling to life even when it is fading away because I don’t. I have a strange understanding of how precious life is and how important it is to be what you want to be all of the time.
I’ve realized I have a prejudice, people who have not experienced loss annoy me. They don’t realize what they have and they take it for granted. They don’t look at the people in their lives and realize how fragile those lives are, or if they do they aren’t as obvious about it as people who have experienced loss. I realize this isn’t fair to those people. I doubt they love people any less than I do just because they haven’t been confronted the the impermanence of life. I often find myself too attached to people because I am aware how quickly life can turn and change. This is my problem with death, not that life ends but that it can end so quickly, So abruptly.
Sometimes I still find myself in shock my mom is gone. Not because I haven’t accepted her death or I am still actively mourning the loss but because it seems so unnatural she is gone. Mothers aren’t supposed to die when their children are still children, it just isn’t right. I realize, even though I am so cynical, I still haven’t lost my idealism or my hope.
What does this have to do with my birthday? Well as I’ve gotten older I’ve discovered a fear. A fear that has kept me from doing a lot in my life, that if I do things I want to do and I live the life I want I will suffer and die the way my mom did. If I create the life I want to live and I make the effort to truly be happy I will have to watch it all fade away. This is irrational, I know. My mom’s fate is in no way my own. I am not destined to be my mom, even though a lot of the time I feel as if I am expected to be her and do the things she did. In some ways I feel like I lost a part of my identity when she died because I was no longer just a kid. I was Christina’s Daughter, I feel like I have been expected to be what she wasn’t and to pick up where she left off. Sometimes I want to just scream at the top of my lungs that I am my own person.
I have a lot in common with my mom and I cherish those things but I am still my own person. I’ve spent a lot of my life allowing people to herd me into what they expect from me and what they want for me so I can avoid argument. I’m tired of that. It’s taken 12 years for me to find my backbone and stand up and do what I want. This birthday is more than just my 24th year of life, it’s a new beginning for me.