A few summers ago I took a class in youth and young adult ministry, and the teacher facilitated a long conversation about what constituted adulthood. Together my classmates and I discussed certain markers of adulthood such financial self-sufficiency, the loss of a parent, or having others rely on you. I believe at the time I settled on a particular event that I believed was the marker of adulthood. I don’t remember what I decided, but I remember it wasn’t something that had occurred yet in my life.
In the car on the way to the grocery store today after work I was thinking about today’s phone call from the doctor, the latest in a line of frequent phone calls informing me that my labs came back and my iron is still dangerously low. I smirked as I drove, thinking about how I often supplement iron with Guinness. I’ve made that joke for years.
Out of nowhere I gasped my way into a sob. Whose life was this? Who is this person who is on potentially dangerous medicines that require blood tests every few weeks, whose recent memories are stuffed with pain and distress?
What grew me up was learning that there is nothing that “only happens to other people”. There is no guarantee that life will turn out the way I plan, even if I do everything right. Sometimes when I cry it’s not because I am particularly pained but because I mourn that simple girl who didn’t know what I know now.
What grew you up?
The other day I was sitting in my local coffee shop and overheard an older woman talking to one of the shop employees about the exercise classes she takes at the senior center. I sat listening to her talk about how much she loved the classes while I thought to myself “some day that will (hopefully) be me” and a wave of grief washed over me.
I don’t know when it happened, but at some point in the last few years, I really started feeling my own mortality in a way that I never had before. Most days I have a moment where I remember that some day, in some way, I will die, and a part of me mourns all of the time I wasted in my youth being anxious, or spaced-out, or overworking myself to the point of delusional exhaustion. Now when people say “time flies” it feels like a punch in the gut.
Whenever that started happening – that grew me up.
claire bangasser says
The pain that you are experiencing is not felt by many. Your sharing it with us is a gift.
Brooke above talks of an older woman happy about her exercises classes. I am like this older woman (older and happy about my exercises)…
I wish you some day like me to look back over your life and see that this inordinate amount that you were put through has helped you become the extraordinary person that you are already and will undoubtedly be in the future.
Bad things happened to me and I did bad things. All these make the flicker of life I am today and when this flicker I am disappears, it will just mean that I will be flickering somewhere else, along with a world of other tiny lights bathing in Godde…
Blessings and thank you, beautiful woman
Christian LeBlanc says
My children grew me up: