Walking in the Shadow of Fear

Yesterday I was
walking with my husband Glen and suddenly blurted something out that had been on my mind for months. AND I started to cry.  To say he was astonished was an understatement. What I shared was something he had no idea was going on.  No I wasn't leaving him. No I wasn't sick or pregnant (hahahha) or ................... I was scared.

I have looked at aging from many angles - as a beloved gift at times, an unwelcome annoyance at others, and on some occasions, a truly difficult challenge.  There are things arising you have no choice but to accept and learn to live with. People actually do start to treat you differently. Suddenly you are offered a seat, someone grabs your elbow as you step off a curb, or you get the eye roll when talking as if you are too old to possibly understand.  You say goodbye to people you love.  You blink and instead of a second passing it's been a few months.  It's a ride that seems to keep accelerating in speed with no way to hit the breaks or even slow it down a bit.

While for the most part I face aging head on, pushing boundaries and throwing myself with abandon into new experiences, there are still times of acknowledgement that living life is not a just a party.  I look at the number and cannot deny I have more of my travels behind me than before me.  And what time I have left is a big unknown.  Will I live to be 100? Will my mind stay sharp and my body stay mobile for all that time?  All you can do is take good care of yourself. Beyond that genetics and life have their say.

Now what exactly brought me to tears yesterday?  Dreams and random thoughts. When we married, I looked at Glen's family and was happy.  He comes from healthy stock on both sides. Most lived to be 95 to 101.  My family is a mixed bag with some passing in their 50's and some living to be 100.  So I warned him I'd probably go first.

Sounds morbid I know, but it took me 29 years to find Glen. Before I met him I was determined to never marry and wasn't sure about even living with anyone. I had seen so many marriages fail. But once I met him, I just couldn't imagine my life without him in it.  What an about face, but it was an unstoppable tsunami that washed away all my doubts. I am still very independent, but yet we are also deeply intertwined. 

Over the last few years, I've had to say goodbye to many - older family members especially, but some friends my age, and some younger - always the hardest.  I didn't really think about it a lot. This is the circle of life, and one that can't be changed.  For the most part, I deal with loss pretty well. I cry, I grieve, and I embrace the fact they are always with me and always will be, just in a different way. I even take time to talk with them when I miss their voices.

Little did I know, that way down deep, in the dark hidden places, a small fear was taking root.  I was starting to have dreams and random thoughts about losing Glen.  What would my life be like? How would I cope?  There isn't a doubt in my mind that this was my heart building a defense mechanism to deal with my fear.  If I have plans in place, I'll cope right? 

I wasn't even aware this was happening at first. Just a few random thoughts would bubble up and I would dismiss them.  Then I reached a point I would consider them like a plot from a fiction story I might be writing, looking at them as if they were someone else's ramblings. Then one night not long ago the whole idea of his loss bubbled up in a dark dream that erupted this fear into my conscious mind.  

Over the last few weeks I have tried to deal with it by scoffing, by denying, by hiding. None of that worked.  Yesterday when I felt the thoughts bubble up during our walk I was shocked. I didn't even feel it coming on. What to do? I pulled up my big girl panties and decided to let Glen know what had been going on. I shared my fears. I cried. What a relief to share the burden with someone who loves me.

I felt a load lifting off my shoulders, one that was too hard to bear alone. No surprise as I've been taught, and have often shared with others, to not suffer alone. To not hide your fears in the shadows. To bring them into the light. In fact, go ahead and shine the brightest light you can on them. Then take away their power by facing them head on.  

Aging isn't for sissies. It's not just a number. But it's not a curse either. It's full of joy and sorrows, successes and failures, easy times and challenging ones, gains and losses.  Live it to the fullest. Relish each and every chance to take another breath.