It’s not that I wasn’t expecting it. I’ve always understood the process and the inevitability. I wrote about it in my journal when my furure was still a pulsing great unknown chomping at the bit to be. Pondering in a moony blue poetic funk is not exactly the same as experiencing it, though. Making peace with the constant aches in muscle and marrow, letting go of nearly every motion that once was second nature and routine, concentrating on each step to avoid crumbling down into a foolish heap, this is a real and present focus that can not be imagined.
Watching with a vague sense of empathy, and if one is honest, annoyance, as an elder shuffles by is not the same as being the elder who has lost the battle with time, who cannot, even with determination, will a foot to lift, whose every forward movement must be measured, planned and accounted for.
They say getting old is not for sissies. What a crock! Getting old is a promise, regardless of one’s courage, ability, talent, acquired knowledge, strength, passion. The only way to deal with it is to face it square on. To say, okay, I can’t do this or this or that anymore.
Nevertheless, I can do this.
As long as my mind is still mostly working, I can do this. If my body holds out past my mind working, then, well, all bets are off. I’ve seen what happens when the mind goes. I’ve held more than one wrinkled knobby hand searching for a path through the jungle of plaques and tangles.
But I don’t want to ponder that possibility. Not yet. I’ve conceded so much already. I need to hold on to what’s left as long as my mental grip is able. I can do this. I’ve done worse. I’ve gone through childbirth three times. I’ve survived, emotionally bruised and bloodied, the teenage years, mine, my children’s and grandchildren’s. I’ve shivered in cold fear of the ‘good Lord, what next’, I’ve watched parents age, decline and die. I’ve been suspended in scary moments when the outcome being life or death was a toss up. I’ve been hurt, rejected, ignored, used and dismissed. By the grace of God, I’ve risen above the anguish of adversity over and over again.
I’ve been around long enough to have a collection of assorted unfairness tucked into my belt. And for it all, truth be told, I am none the worse. In fact, it is the total of all the wrongs, hards, stupids and unacceptables that forged me. That sums me up. That taught me by the doing, the experiencing, the testing. If given the choice, if I had a time machine, I’d never go back and alter the offenses against me, nor for all the dumb things I did, because, for all my ignorance, I was smart enough to ask to be forgiven for the harms I caused. For all my struggles along the way to where I am now, for all the things I am forced to set aside, the one thing I can own completely and never give up is humble gratitude for all of it, the good, the bad, the atrocious.
Because He sees past the layers I've added on since birth, all the way deep to my core, I am completely exposed.
We enter naked–if we learn our lessons–we exit stripped.
God engineers circumstances to see what we will do. Will we be the children of our Father in heaven, or will we go back again to the meaner, common-sense attitude? Will we stake all and stand true to Him? “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” The crown of life means I shall see that my Lord has got the victory after all, even in me. ~ Oswald Chambers