The title of one of my favorite songs by the immortal Patsy Cline, "I Fall to Pieces", perfectly expresses my present condition. Tomorrow is my birthday, and it's a big one. Sixty. I can hardly believe it. I'm almost afraid to say it out loud. Any celebration will be very low key.
I know. I know. I still have my health. The alternative is worse. Yada, yada, yada. To any of you who have passed this milestone, congratulations. You're a role model. To those of you who haven't, it's big and scary. I wish you the best.
No previous birthday affected me like this one. Not thirty, not forty, not fifty. I've had friends who bemoaned each of those, but not me. I looked reasonably young, still had plenty of energy and lots to look forward to. Now things have changed.
Sixty means facing facts. I exercise every day, yet I still tire more easily than I used to. Nagging little health issues pop up with greater frequency. Menopause has stolen every single collagen cell I possessed. Everything has started to sag, and there's no going back. I'm not vain enough to consider plastic surgery, but every now and then an ugly little voice in my ear tempts me.
And all that business about facing mortality is real. My husband had a stroke last spring at sixty-four. Thank God, he had no lasting effects, but we both know the outcome could have been very different. It's changed the way we think and live. We now know anything can happen at any time. Younger people shrug off mortality with an "I could be hit by a bus tomorrow" attitude, but you know they don't believe it. We believe it.
The upside is that we treat each other with more kindness. We take gentler care of each other. We're a stronger team because each of us is a bit less than we used to be. We still have things we want to do, places we want to go, experiences we want to share. With luck, we'll get around to most of them. We might have many more decades together, but life doesn't come with guarantees. I understand that now more deeply than ever before.
Cliches become cliches for a reason. You really do have to appreciate what you have while you have it and make every day count.